Thursday, March 22, 2007

the house of bishops resolution rejecting the primates' pastoral scheme

Here's the first Mind of the House resolution, and the one which actually accomplishes the rejection.
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Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and

Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.
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First, you've got to wonder why that opening resolved clause is there, about the preamble being interpreted only by General Convention. Though I haven't heard a lot of conservatives push this argument recently, the progressives are still hyper-worried that the preamble might bind us to the Communion, such that we can't do whatever we jolly well please. Which makes one wonder whether independence (in spiritual terms, rebellion) is really more to TEC's taste than Communion or catholicity, and really the root of all of this, from Bp. Robinson onward. What kind of conversation, do you suppose, went on at Camp Allen to necessitate this clause?
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It's also more than a little immature to say that our words mean precisely what we want them to mean, no more and no less. Words do mean things, and communication would be impossible if words didn't have recognized meanings outside of people's own perspectives. You can't make 'red' mean 'blue'. If you do, you're speaking in code, not straight-forward language. What exactly is the HoB's intention in claiming the sole right of interpretation here? Are they going to transform our preamble into a minefield of code words that mean whatever we want them to mean? Why not just be honest and change the words, rather than giving the same old words brand new, and sometimes contradictory, meanings? That's called 'deception' or 'lying', though I'm sure the HoB just thinks it's being clever.
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As for the second clause, note that the idea of a Primatial Vicar has not been rejected. Only the Primates' version thereof has been rejected. There's still room here for PB Jefferts-Schori's plan to be effected. Ruth Gledhill is right: this is a game of one-upmanship, a face card to finesse the primates' power. Regardless, as this resolution bears upon TEC's commitment to being catholic, it is to me a frightening indication of, indeed, the mind of the house .

2 comments:

father wb said...

Fr,

I think you've got it backward. The reason only General Convention can interpret the Preamble (according to the HoB) is so that they can insist, come what may, that ecusa IS still a contituent member of the Anglican Communion -- this is an effort to foreclose the possibility that after ecusa is rejected, the orthodox dioceses will claim to be the "constituent" members of the Communion in the USA, and therefore the heirs of the Constitution and Canons, etc. The orthodox might then call an extraordinary General Convention of their own, and excoommunicate the majority liberals, or some such. This would also, by extension, close a possible loophole re: the Dennis Canon. It ensures that the liberal majority in ECUSA has the right to insist that they are "constituent members" of the Communion, come hell or high water.

That's how I read it anyway.

father thorpus said...

Hm. Nice read; I hadn't thought of that. So it's clearly a move against the claim that a breach in TEC's communion with Canterbury invalidates 815's ownership of the constitution and canons.