Go to StandFirm where Matt Kennedy is reporting on breaking news from the House of Bishops. It looks like we won’t even have to wait until September. It looks like the bishops reject the pastoral council (and with it, the Primatial Vicar) and it appears that they reject the Communique. No wonder they are heading to court. The Episcopal Church House of Bishops has defiantly said no to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion. Wow – they aren’t even going to try. It’s over.
LATER: The Living Church has now released this article:
Bishops Reject Primates’ Ultimatum
The House of Bishops has declined to participate in a pastoral initiative designed by the primates to care for congregations and dioceses which for reasons of conscience cannot accept the episcopal ministry of their bishop or primate.
“We understand that the present situation requires intentional care for those within our Church who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the actions of our General Convention,” the bishops said. “We pledge ourselves to continue to work with them toward a workable arrangement. In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope.”
The rejection was contained in one of three resolutions approved by the bishops on March 20. The resolutions were debated as part of a business session during the bishops’ annual spring retreat held March 16-21 at Camp Allen near Houston.
The bishops noted several times in the three resolutions that they desired to remain full members of the Anglican Communion. Only General Convention, however, can make decisions which are binding on The Episcopal Church. In their Feb. 19 communiqué, the primates asked the House of Bishops to respond on behalf of The Episcopal Church no later than Sept. 30. The bishops deferred the Church’s response on the pastoral council to Executive Council.
The bishops listed five reasons why they considered the pastoral council and primatial vicar to be a bad idea. The pastoral council violates the canons which contain no provision for the primate to delegate authority. It would change the character of the “Windsor process.” It harkens back to a period of Colonialism from which The Episcopal Church was liberated. It replaces local rule by laity with a curial model.
“Most important of all it is spiritually unsound,” they said. “The pastoral scheme encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.”
In the first resolution, the bishops said only General Convention can define the Church’s relationship toward the Anglican Communion. In the second resolution, the bishops restated their desire to continue to participate in the life and work of the Communion and requested an urgent meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates standing committee.
“We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the primates’ standing committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity,” they said. “We invite the Archbishop and members of the primates’ standing committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.”