Saturday, July 15, 2006

Episcopal Church and Abortion

This is the "Explanation" section of a Resolution to General Convention that would have rescinded TEC's membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (sometime the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights). The resolution was left pending in the House of Bishops.

Although the Executive Council failed to note it in their Blue Book Report, they voted to join the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at their January meeting in Iowa. The above resolution brings this action to the General Convention because the January vote affects the entire church in establishing an affiliation with an organization whose statements are inconsistent with ECUSA's own, such as: "You are to claim your godlike, God-given role in creation by saying yes or no, secure in the knowledge that whatever you decide, after having honestly sought what is right, God will bless." (RCRC"s Considering Abortion? Clarifying What You Believe, p.7). ( The Episcopal Church doesn't bless all decisions regarding abortion as stated in Resolution A054 passed at the 71st General Convention "We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience." and takes the opposite position by acknowledging decisions and actions can be out of the will of God, and recognizes the need for repentance and confession at the beginning of each liturgy.) This resolution seeks clarity from the larger Church on the issue of life.

So let me get this straight: in 1994 General Convention passed a resolution stating that we "emphatically oppose abortion, etc." But the Executive Council doesn't realize this when it votes in January to make us part of the Coalition? Then it 'fails' to report it in their Blue Book Report, as if it wasn't such a big deal and it just slipped their minds? "Oh, yes, we remember now, there was that one thing about abortion that we did, completely reversing a direction of the General Convention -- really, it was just an oversight, and we're sure no one really cares anyway." Probably the most concerning thing that this fiasco highlights is the corruption in TEC's polity: it seems like no authority is binding and those in power are able to press their agenda regardless of the previous statements of any governing body of the church. Resolutions at General Convention don't MEAN anything unless the people in power want them to. We treat Lambeth 1.10 the same way -- it's only the 'listening' clauses that should be binding, not all that bit about "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture". Same seems to go for Windsor -- the parts about not crossing episcopal boundaries should be binding, but the bits about moratoria are matters of 'autonomy.'

Here's a good article about the Executive Council's decision.


Jake said...

I basically agree with your outrage regarding being linked with the RCRC.

But, at the risk of straining your hospitality, the article was by Mark Tooley; a former CIA operative with no theological traning. I'm sure there are better sources?

father wb said...

"...this fiasco highlights is the corruption in TEC's polity: it seems like no authority is binding..."

Endorsing abortion-on-demand = just more (and more definitive) evidence of ECUSA's failure. I conclude: ECUSA is in total disarray. It is an ecclesiological disaster. Worse: its an ecclesiological farse. Its a travesty of a church. I'm all for patience in realignment, but all this leaves absolutely no doubt in my mind that realignment is divinely imperative. And may it happen sooner rather than later.

father wb said...


Welcome Father Jake. I'm pleased to have a charitable voice of dissent from this blog's official theological bent... and one of the most luminous stars of Anglican Blogdom at that.

father thorpus said...

No strain at all, Fr. Jake. Tooley may be a biased writer, I know not -- but his facts seem to be straight, and most of my outrage comes from the Resolution anyway.

father thorpus said...

So here's the canonical mandate for the Executive council: count the ways it exceeded this in its decision to join the RCRC. From TEC's website.

Executive Council Mandate

CANON I.4.1 (P. 29)

CANON 4: Of the Executive Council Sec. 1 (a) There shall be an Executive Council of the General Convention (which Council shall generally be called simply the Executive Council) whose duty it shall be to carry out the program and policies adopted by the General Convention. The Executive Council shall have charge of the coordination, development, and implementation of the ministry and mission of the Church.

(b) The Executive Council shall be accountable to the General Convention and shall render a full published report concerning the work with which it is charged to each meeting of the said Convention. The report shall also include information on the implementation of all concurred resolutions of the previous General Convention calling for action by the Executive Council, by its officers and staff, and by the jurisdictions of the Church.