26 September 2007

First thoughts on the HoB statement

As I wrote earlier, I spent most of the evening with the Altar Guild in the parish I serve. Less dramatic than the trembling Anglican Communion, but infinitely more profound. Now that we've solved problems ranging from Advent greens to crufty holy water, from new lectionary books to old microphones, I'm prepared to return to blogospheria Anglicana.

I've had a very quick look at the HoB's statement, and an even quicker look at some other early reactions. Taking Kendall Harmon's advice to heart, I'm going to sleep on this before I write too much. That said, a few thoughts. Sorry for the shorthand and jargon -- will have more to say tomorrow.
  • This statement was less verbose than I expected.
  • I'm grateful for their clarity on B033, even though I believe that we should not deny the possibility of the Holy Spirit calling a GLBT person as a bishop. For now, I think this is a sound answer to the primates' requests, and it should keep us in the conversation. We needed to do that, I think.
  • I think their SSB response is more of the same fudge, but it's just a bit less fudgy this time. Our bishops have said, again, that they haven't authorized official rites (i.e. published liturgies), but they are more clearly acknowledging the pastoral response (i.e. SSBs in parishes) that is taking place. This satisfies the letter of the law in the primates' requests, but it won't satisfy hard-line primates who want a total cessation of SSBs.
  • The bishops were clear in their wish for an immediate end to incursions from other provinces. I wonder if they'll consider discipline against their own number who have traveled to Africa to consecrate some of these bishops.
  • Their mention of Bishop Gene Robinson's exclusion from Lambeth seemed about right -- duly noted, and not unduly demanding.
  • Their support of the Presiding Bishop is clear, as well as their support for the latest DEPO (with a bit of ALPO thrown in?) scheme.
  • This was all more clear than I would have expected. I wish the language included more scriptural references, but I think they were trying to economize words.
  • I hope there's no minority report from the left. That would really undermine the potential goodwill that this statement will generate with moderate primates. On the other hand, the minority report from the right is now taking place in Pittsburgh. I expect mass defections very soon.
  • Somehow the bishops have managed to answer the primates' requests without rolling back the place GLBTs in our church. If Integrity can be happy with this, and if it keeps us talking with the Communion, this is close to a miracle.
Thanks be to God.

2 comments:

Brian said...

I note an Australian Associated Press (27 Sep 07) report that the head of the Anglican Church in Australia, the Most Revd Dr Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane (who was the press spokesman for the Dar Es Salaam meeting) has welcomed the US Bishops' response.

"I believe that the House of Bishops has responded positively to all the requests put to them by the primates in our Dar es Salaam communique. Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests. I would now like the time to undertake careful analysis of the House of Bishops response, but my initial reaction based both on my preliminary reading of the document itself and on my first-hand conversations with many of the Bishops involved is that the house has responded positively to the substance of all the requests made by the primates."

Plainly the willingness of the US bishops to limit the role played by gay and lesbian people in the life of their Church is at odds with their affirmation that they "proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church."

That said, the US church has done more than any other Anglican/Episcopal church to affirm gay and lesbian people, which should be acknowledged and applauded. The American bishops have done all in their power (a power limited by the polity of their Church) to bring oneness in Christ. Those who say it is not enough may do as they please.

Scott Gunn said...

Brian,

Thanks for your comment here. Your assessment seems about right to me, on all counts. Thanks for the link to +Aspinall's statement. Glad at least one primate thinks it's OK.

SG+