Saturday, March 24, 2007

does the primates' pastoral scheme violate tec canons?

This is what the House of Bishops claimed in its statement: that the primates' pastoral scheme with their version of the primatial vicar "violates our church law in that it would call for a delegation of primatial authority not permissible under our Canons and a compromise of our autonomy as a Church not permissible under our Constitution. "
Well, here are the relevant passages from the Constitution and Canons, Title I:
Sec. 4 (a) The Presiding Bishop shall be the Chief Pastor and Primate of the Church, and shall:
(1) Be charged with responsibility for leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy in the Church and speaking for the Church as to the policies, strategies and programs authorized by the General Convention; . . .

(c) The Presiding Bishop shall perform such other functions as shall be prescribed in these Canons; and, to be enabled better to perform such duties and responsibilities, the Presiding Bishop may appoint, to positions established by the Executive Council of General Convention, officers, responsible to the Presiding Bishop, who may delegate such authority as shall seem appropriate.

Whitehallians, tell us what you think - but I don't see anything here that precludes the appointment of a Primatial Vicar, as was first suggested by a group of bishops including former PB Griswold and PB Jefferts Schori, or TEC's participation in the Primates' pastoral scheme. If TEC was willing to find a way forward based on these canons, it could be done. The House of Bishops seems now to be worried that the inclusion of officers of the Primates on the Pastoral Council would put undue power in their hands: but look at the original proposal:
2. The Primatial Vicar would be accountable to the Presiding Bishop and would report to an Advisory Panel that would consist of the designee of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop’s designee, a bishop of The Episcopal Church selected by the petitioning dioceses, and the President of the House of Deputies (or designee).
Compare it to the Primates' proposal:

A Pastoral Council

The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.

A Pastoral Scheme

. . .

􀂃 We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.

. . .
􀂃 in consultation with the Council and with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council;

􀂃 the Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.

Two points: first, the make-up of this Pastoral Council is not so different from that of the Advisory Panel that was already suggested. TEC gets two out of four seats in the Advisory Panel, and two out of five on the Council. One in either case goes to the ABC, and the only other difference is the presence of Primates or the President of the House of Deputies.

Second point: what the primates ask for is precisely what PB Jefferts Schori suggested! There's no usurping of primatial authority. Their ideas fit neatly within the canons and within Jefferts-Schori's own proposal, with the one exception that they ask that the Primatial Vicar be responsible to the Pastoral Council, not the Advisory Panel. the Vicar's powers still come from the PB as delegated powers, so the Vicar would still be responsible to the PB for their use.
Again I say, if the leaders of TEC wanted to find a way forward under these canons, without dividing the church or driving anyone away, they could. It's not that hard. It might take changing 'responsible to the Council' to 'reporting to the Council' or some such, but negotiation could work all that out. But the House of Bishops clearly isn't interested in negotiation, only in stating who they are - again - as if anyone had any doubt. Maybe if they say it louder this time, the rest of the Communion will finally say, "oh, yes, we see, that's all it is. Ok, do as you please." The fact is our communion partners DO understand us just fine; and they still believe our communion stands in jeopardy.

1 comment:

J-Tron said...

It is indeed puzzling, to say the least, that the bishops have so vehemently denounced a pastoral plan that is not only similar to the plan already put forward by our own primate but is in fact endorsed by our own primate. Do we even know whose side we're on anymore?