Friday, December 01, 2006

Olive Branch from the PB?

Think Negotiation strategy: So the Primatial Vicar proposal is an olive branch: what good is it to offer a 'compromise' that looks like a real compromise on the outside but studiously avoids giving in to your negotiation partner's priorities? This strategy has two possible purposes that I see:

1. it's a good-faith offer, the first step in a series of offers meant to express your side's priorities. You expect it to be refused, and you expect the other side to offer a similar 'compromise'. You judge by each offer what the priorities are, and work to incorporate both sets of priorities into the final version.
2. it's merely rhetorical posturing, a slick bit of PR to say, "we tried, we really did" (when we didn't) "and those extremists just won't compromise."

If the Primatial Vicar proposal really is #1, we should EXPECT it to be refused by the orthodox, and a good-faith offer to come from that side, equally problematic to the revisionists. This offer and counter-offer, refusal and counter-refusal should get us closer to agreement over time. If this kind of negotiation is really what's going on, perhaps there's hope for reconciliation after all.

If we don't see some give and take going on, speaking and listening, or any good faith, we're left with the conclusion that the Primatial Vicar proposal is merely posturing, a power play, or some slick PR by the PB, perhaps to influence San Joaquin's convention.

I have a hunch that all the negotiation was done at the September meeting between PB's old and new and the APO bishops. From +Iker's letter it appears the negotiations weren't successful, and the Primatial Vicar Proposal was made public without having been agreed to by the APO bishops. This puts PB Schori firmly in category #2, and it calls into question the status of the proposal. ENS reports:

"The response drafted at the New York November 27th meeting is provisional in nature, beginning January 1, 2007 and continuing for three years. The New York group asked the Presiding Bishop to monitor its efficacy, and to consult with the House of Bishops and the Executive Council regarding the arrangement and possible future developments.
The response has been submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the bishops of the petitioning dioceses."

Does this mean the proposal IS or ISN'T in effect yet? On the one hand, it's been 'submitted' to the APO bishops and the ABC -- can they refuse to ratify it? On the other hand, it's supposed to start up immediately and it doesn't seem to have any connection to any duly formed legislative body of TEC. Is this simply an 'executive order', such that PB Schori can go right ahead with it regardless of objections? That sounds like her bull in a china shop style. I suppose if she's approaching the whole thing as an issue of delegated authority, she can choose to delegate her own authority whenver she likes. But that sidesteps the issue that some of the APO bishops care most about: women's ordination. Those who accept Women's ordination might be able to accept a primatial vicar. Those who don't, not. Is this a slick move to divide and conquer, to hit the orthodox where we're most divided?


Hoosierpalian said...

Big-time "broad and hazy" liberal here. I actually think that #2 is correct. The person known as Katharine Jefferts-Schori may indeed be choosing to steer a hard-line liberal course. She's only been in charge for a month, so we still have eight years and 11 months to find out. I think that she cannot give the Network Bishops what they want, but needs to be seen to be making a gesture.
What *do* the Network Bishops want? APO as a temporary refuge until realignment under another Primate? Maybe Katharine Jefferts-Schori is trying to get Network Bishops to leave TEC sooner rather than later--offering an unacceptable alternative so that Network clergy can end their association with the Church Pension Fund and hand in the keys to church property to TEC. I attended a liberal church for a time in a Network diocese and understand that the pain on both sides is real, and although the ensuing divorce will be excruciating, let us all pray that it will be brief.

Anonymous said...

Please see my blog for Bishop Iker's response, which makes it clear that what is under consideration by the ortodox is "an alternative Primate," not just a temporary stand-in for the PB at consecrations (all that is clearly in mind for this "vicar"). Bishop Iker wants "a long term solution to our irreconcilable differences." I have a hard time seeing how this can be done short of the new ecclesial structure the Global South have talked about. As long as PB Jefferts Schori has any real authority over the orthodox (and Mr. Beers and her letters to Bishop Schofield make it clear they believe she has a good deal of authority, no matter what Bishop Stanton my say about the PB's office), they will not willingly submit. The proposal leaves all power in her hands--she picks the vicar, he answers to an oversight committee (half of which would PB and GC loyalists) but clearly he would be ultimately under her control. This will never fly, at least in Fort Worth and San Joaquin. Now we have to wait and see what new ecclesiastical structure the Global South has in mind when the Primates meet in February. I doubt it will bear any resemblance to the proposal the PB put forward this week. We will get a new Primate, I am sure.

mmbx said...

Looks like it won't fly with Pittsburg either. Hooray for Fort Worth, Pittsburg and San Joaquin! To quote the Rev. Cannon Anderson of the AAC, "The proposal does not take into account the heart of the issue and problem which is that Katharine Jefferts Schori has adopted a form of faith, theology and Christology that is so seriously out of step with historic Anglicanism and Christianity that it calls into question her capacity to give appropriate leadership on this matter. It keeps all the power in her hands. The proposal is to be in consultation with, not the consent of, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Thus she makes all the decisions. It is a non-starter."

Hoosierpalian said...


Yes, I think you are correct. To get a new Primate, though, I think there will need to be a new province. I don't think that Katharine Jefferts-Schori will provide for a situation in which the Network dioceses can have their own Primate and stay within TEC. Do you think the Global South Primates will be able to provide a new province for the Network dioceses at their next meeting? If I were pro-Network, I think I would want my own American Primate as soon as possible.

father wb said...

I think its more #2 than #1. Though, if I were the PB, I think I would have made a more robust offer... one that would be potentially acceptable to the less vociferous of the petitioning dioceses, but unacceptable to the more vociferous ones, thereby dividing their ranks.

As it stands, I think this offer is DOA, and will only serve further to entrench the APO petitioners. All of the 815 rhetoric does suggest such "bull in a china shop esque" strategy. I think this offer was very much rhetorical posturing... for the sake of (1) the ignorant, liberal, or fence-sitting types in ECUSA to whom it may well sound fine and generous, (2) the secular media, and (3) the ABC and other middle-types among the primates.