Since the House of Bishop’s meeting in New Orleans is now over, I’ve posted the revised text of St. Francis Church’s consensus response to several questions presented to the Diocese by Bishop Bauerschmidt. During the revision process this post was password protected, but I’ve removed that feature now because I think some of what we said is applicable now in the days after the House of Bishop’s meeting. In particular, I wanted to point out this section:
Each of the requests mentioned above (the requests of the primates) have been made of the Episcopal Church by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in order to accomplish one very important goal: to achieve the space necessary to mend the broken relationships of trust and mutual affection upon which our communion has been built.
The first step in this process of reconciliation is that the offending party—in this case the Episcopal Church—must come not only to a place of realization and repentance, but also a place where real action can be taken to right previous grievances. It is not just that the Episcopal Church pursued a direction that the majority of the Anglican Communion has indicated it cannot follow; it is that this direction has been pursued despite repeated requests, pleadings and warnings not to do so.
I believe this meeting of the House of Bishops was a crucial point in providing the sort of space needed for healing and a relief from the psychic stress which many in our congregations find themselves under. I recall that the Bishops heard a presentation on how unhealthy it is for clergy to minister in such ambiguous circumstances, but it’s not just or even primarily clergy that suffer from the fissures and stresses in our common life. So, at the end of the day, how well did the House of Bishops, at least from what we’ve seen so far, address this need?
For myself, I’d say they’ve provided slight relief if any. At the moment it looks like this was an affirmation of the status quo, though the coming days may reveal that to be an incorrect assessment. The statement at least seems to clarify what was meant by B033, and indicates that it’s reach extends to any candidate for ordination to the episcopate who is a non-celibate homosexual. At the same time, the statement relies on the direction of General Convention in the future, and rests upon the limited distinction between authorized public rites of same sex blessings vs. blessings that are conducted as pastoral acts. In other words, in those places where they are already going on, they will continue, no rite will be approved, but even blessings that are technically “public” will be considered private because they don’t have an authorized public rite to use. We shall see.