What do we hope and pray for at General Convention in Ohio this week and next?This brought a rebuke from the Diocese of Virginia:
REAFFIRMATION: The teaching of the church on matters such as the uniqueness of Christ and the trustworthiness of Holy Scripture especially on matters of human sexuality was called into question at GC2003. Now is the time to reaffirm the truths of classical Christianity.
REPENTANCE: At GC2003 the General Convention made decisions that have torn the Church apart. ECUSA has been challenged to repent (change direction, turn around), not merely express remorse for the consequences of their actions.
ROLL BACK: Actions were taken at GC2003 regarding the election of Gene Robinson and the blessing of same-sex unions that have had a devastating impact on our witness and the work of the wider church. They need to be rolled back so that the damage can be undone.
There has been much talk of embracing the Windsor Report. We think that’s good. But do you really know Windsor’s ABCs? Or for that matter, how about the ‘R’s?What the Diocese is engaging in is nothing short of a lie, as I will show, below. The sad thing, for the Diocese is that the leadership apparently believes its own lies, as do many others who are ECUSA delegates and by believing these self-serving lies, they are dooming the denomination for destruction and separation from the larger Anglican Communion.
Of the four ‘R’s currently making the rounds you will find two in the report:
REGRET: As in, we should express regret “that the proper restraints of the bonds of affection were breached” in the election and consent to Gene Robinson.
RECONCILIATION: As in, Windsor is not a judgment but “part of a pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation.”
But we’ve been hearing some other ‘R’s that you will not find in Windsor:
REPENTANCE: As in repent for the election of Bishop Robinson. There is no reference to repentance for the election and consent to Bishop Robinson.
ROLLBACK: As in, undo it. There is no call in Windsor for a rollback of the consent to Bishop Robinson.[*] Indeed, Windsor recommends that the Archbishop of Canterbury (Windsor’s real ABC) use “very considerable caution” in inviting and admitting Bishop Robinson to the councils of the Communion. The premise of that recommendation is that Gene Robinson will indeed remain a bishop.
This type of lie is an equivocation, a prevarication, a distortion of the truth with the intent to mislead. It appears that the DioVA is hoping to set a very low bar so that it can pass a meaningless expression of regret ("we're sorry you chose to be hurt by our actions") as opposed to a real expression of regret at having rejected the rest of the Anglican Communion (and those members of the Diocese who have chosen to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ).
But don't take my word for it, let's see what Bishop Tom Wright has to say. In a paper republished on Titus1:9, Bp. Wright, a senior member of the Lambeth Commission (which produced the Windsor report, in .pdf here) seeks to set the record straight. Because, as he explains, "the only way forward which will command assent from the Communion and enable us to proceed together is to be careful and exact about what precisely Windsor said and meant."
As an aside, before I continue to digest Bp. Wright's paper, which should be read in whole, a point of clarification. There is a bit of confusion with the use of the term "Commission" throughout the paper. In some cases, it refers to the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor Report. In others, it refers to the "Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion" which produced a 61 page report -- here, in .pdf -- for ECUSA. I will refer to this Commission with a bracketed [ECUSA] for clarification when quoting Bp. Wright.
The context of Bp. Wright's paper, as noted in my aside, is the response being prepared by the ECUSA Commission for consideration by the delegates in Columbus. He notes the ECUSA commission omits key facts in its history: "It is surprising to see that in its account of the history of the current issue there is no mention of what the Primates said in October 2003 [notes and references omitted] and hence of the fact that the consecration of Gene Robinson had gone ahead in full knowledge of the consequences."
Bp. Wright continues in ¶5 of his paper:
The [ECUSA] Commission then rightly turns its attention to the key questions, ‘expressing regret and repentance.' This section is crucial as an introduction to the key recommendations. It focuses on Windsor para 134, quoting its introductory sentence (‘Mindful of the hurt and offence that have resulted from recent events, and yet also of the imperatives of communion – the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ – we have debated long and hard how all sides may be brought together’). It does not, however, quote the next part of Windsor 134, but contents itself – vitally, as will emerge in a moment – with a summary in terms of ‘a statement of regret for breaching the bonds of affection’ and ‘moratoria on particular actions’ (34, end). It notes that ‘statements of regret have been made by the House of Bishops and the Executive Council,’ though without noting that these have not been the ‘statements of regret’ asked for by Windsor, but rather statements of regret that some people were hurt by ECUSA’s actions, and a statement (from the House of Bishops in March 2005, anticipating the phraseology now used in the Commission’s proposals) of regret for breaching the bonds of affection ‘by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking those actions’, which as we shall presently see is clearly and specifically not what Windsor asked for.He continues in ¶ 6:
The section continues to speak in general terms of ‘statements of regret’ without quoting, or addressing, the specific statements asked for in Windsor 134. Instead, para 38 says (at the end), ‘We also believe that the General Convention’s consideration of such expressions of regret and repentance will provide clear evidence of our desire to reaffirm the bonds of affection that unite us in the fellowship of the Anglican Communion.’ This is a puzzling statement, whose implications become clear in the resolutions that follow. Certainly the fact that General Convention will consider expressions of regret and repentance will demonstrate that most in ECUSA want to remain within the Anglican Communion. But the important question is whether that desire will lead to the specific and particular expressions of regret and repentance asked for by Windsor 134, or whether ECUSA will try to attain the goal of staying within the Communion without travelling by the only route that will get there, namely that of the road mapped by Windsor and endorsed by the Primates and ACC.Continuing in a very key section in ¶7, he explains:
... At no point in the Commission’s report is it even mentioned that the real problem is not that actions are ‘out of sequence’ or taken ‘without time for consultation’, but that the actions in question went exactly, explicitly and knowingly against the expressed mind of Lambeth, ACC, the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury. There had, in fact, been plenty of consultation at several levels, and ECUSA chose to ignore the results of that consultation.Emphasis added. Bp. Wright continues on to succintly dismantle the prevarications of the ECUSA Commission, which, as I said, should be read in full.
In ¶10, he notes the duplicity** being proposed by the ECUSA Commission:
When it comes to public rites of blessing of same-sex unions, the Commission suggests that its previous resolution has been misunderstood. . . . From a Windsor perspective, this sounds like a straightforward attempt to have one’s cake and eat it, using a narrow definition of ‘authorized’ (= ‘printed in an official prayer book’) to deny that local liturgies come into that category, while explicitly encouraging their development and use. See (17) below for the outworking of this, where it becomes clear, as noted in Windsor 144, that General Convention is seen as ‘making provision’ for, and individual diocesan bishops can then ‘authorize’, such blessings.In paragraphs 12-17 of his paper, he turns to the proposed resolutions, beginning with the twisting of Windsor:
The benchmark against which the key resolutions must be measured is of course Windsor 134 (for Resolutions A160 and A161) and Windsor 144 (for A162). The report quotes the preamble to Windsor 134 . . . but never quotes the recommendations themselves. The reason for this, sadly, becomes all too clear: the [ECUSA] Commission . . . decided to decline Windsor’s request and to do something else instead, using some words and phrases which echo those of Windsor while not affirming the substance that was asked for. This, with real sadness, is my basic conclusion: that unless the relevant Resolutions are amended so that they clearly state what Windsor clearly requested, the rest of the Communion is bound to conclude that ECUSA has specifically chosen not to comply with Windsor.¶12. Again, my emphasis.
He continues in the next few sections to eviscerate the ECUSA [fake] apologies summing up in ¶15:
To put it bluntly: Resolution A160 is not, as it stands, Windsor-compliant, and the Commission must have known that only too well. Granted that, the statement in the ‘Explanation’ that this Resolution is ‘thus signalling our synodical intentions to remain within the Communion’ must, sadly, be seen as essentially cynical. Windsor said that ‘such an expression of regret’ – i.e. the one that Windsor requested, not the one that the Resolution offers – ‘would represent the desire of ECUSA to remain within the Communion.’ The fact that the ‘explanation’ quotes this latter phrase demonstrates a desire, not apparently to comply with Windsor, but to give the appearance of doing so to those who glance at the text but do not look carefully at what is actually said.He weighs the next proposal, dealing with a moratorium on the ordination of sexually active gay persons and finds it wanting, concluding "...if Resolution A161 is passed without amendment, and still more if it is not even passed, it will be impossible to draw any other conclusion but that ECUSA has chosen not to comply with the Windsor recommendations." ¶16.
Finally he concludes most emphatically:
It is very important not to let the plethora of material, in the official document and in all the various commentaries on it, detract attention from from the central and quite simple question: Will ECUSA comply with the specific and detailed recommendations of Windsor, or will it not? As the Resolutions stand, only one answer is possible: if these are passed without amendment, ECUSA will have specifically, deliberately and knowingly decided not to comply with Windsor.at ¶19, again, my emphasis added.
The duplicity of ECUSA and echoed by its DioVa Amen Corner must not stand. If it does, ECUSA will be "'turning [it's] back on', i.e. forsaking, something in which one was previously engaged, interested or concerned; desertion or abandonment of a cause, party, etc.; apostasy, renegation."
*Note, that Canon Minns, in his statement above, does not call for an express rollback of the consent of the ordination of Gene Robinson.
**In an aside in ¶ 14, Bp. Wright notes:
(and at this point, reading and re-reading what they wrote, I have to say with sadness that the word ‘duplicity’ comes unbidden to my mind)