Monday, July 28, 2008

Deja vu all over again for yet another time

The dreaded Windsor Continuation Group has issued its much-awaited third discussion paper, preemptively decried among main stream media journalists, in the face of all the evidence, to be herald to a new Inquisition and a papal Anglican Communion. (Cue villain music.)

And it turned out to be a real tempest after all!

No doubt all the usual Anglican blogs will be analyzing this all day.
  • Those who still retain a grasp on the bare minimum of sanity, logic, and historical awareness will recognized this statement -- which, I remind you, is merely a "talking points" memo issued by a non-legislative committee for purposes of discussion -- for what it is: yet more nothing.
  • The "look for any excuse to justify not doing anything" institutionalists, who desperately need more and more justification for their ingrained habit of rejecting the faith for the sake of staying in the organization, will - yet again - clutch at straws by telling us what a hopeful, positive sign this is, with many excellent new elements and possibilities, and that we should all continue to do nothing rash for another decade or so to see how it plays out this time.
  • The revisionists, heretics and apostates will run about shrieking how this is a terribly invasive idea, smacks of un-Anglican popery, and anyway, only General Convention (or each diocese, or the HoB... or whichever group looks least likely to approve it and has its next meeting scheduled as far in the future as possible) can really respond to it anyway. They've already started too.

Meanwhile, I'd like to add to the discussion by examining what "new elements" this "memo for discussion" brings to the table. If any.

The memo starts up with a rather bland summary of the existing situation:
The failure to respond presents us with a situation where if the three moratoria are not observed, the Communion is likely to fracture. The patterns of action currently embraced with the continued blessings of same-sex unions and of interventions could lead to irreparable damage.
No, REALLY? I never would have guessed.
BREAKING: Windsor Continuation Group announced that the sun rose today. Reporters shocked; liberals scandalized.

Then it goes on to give its "new proposals". It suggests that some interim authority or process needs to be put in place to hold everyone together until a Covenant can be produced. (Yeah, like the Covenant is going to fix anything, or the pansexualists will pay any attention to it). So the WCG observes:
In the period leading up to the establishment of a covenant, however, there are urgent issues which need addressing if we are going to be able to get to the point where such a renewal of trust even becomes possible.
Golly, where I have I heard that before? Oh yeah -- the primates at Dar Es Salaam a year and a half ago.
The scheme proposed and the undertakings requested are intended to have force until the conclusion of the Covenant Process and a definitive statement of the position of The Episcopal Church with respect to the Covenant.

The WCG wants to set up a new "Forum" to mediate disputes and oversee the "continued" implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report:
the swift formation of a 'Pastoral Forum' at Communion level to engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.
Hang on, this also sounds familiar.
The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church.
The WCG's Forum must have members appointed by the ABC and represent points of view representing the "breadth" of the Communion as a whole. (I.e. it must have incorporated into its structure precisely the same incoherence and incompatibility which has paralyzed the Communion... so that by representing everyone it can be sure to accomplish nothing.)
The President of such a Forum would be the Archbishop of Canterbury, who would also appoint its episcopal chair, and its members. The membership of the Forum must include members from the Instruments of Communion and be representative of the breadth of the life of the Communion as a whole.
That, too, sounds rather familiar.
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.

And the mission and mandate of the WCG's proposed new Forum?
The Pastoral Forum should be empowered to act in the Anglican Communion in a rapid manner to emerging threats to its life, especially through the ministry of its Chair, who should work alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury in the exercise of his ministry. The Forum would be responsible for addressing those anomalies of pastoral care arising in the Communion against the recommendations of the Windsor Report. It could also offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion might be appropriate where any of the three moratoria are broken.
Now that sure sounds a lot like:
negotiate the necessary structures for pastoral care which would meet the requests of the Windsor Report (TWR, §147–155) and the Primates’ requests in the Lambeth Statement of October 2003... authorise protocols for the functioning of such a scheme, including the criteria for participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations in the scheme... monitor the response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report... consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report §157 [Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart. We would much rather not speculate on actions that might need to be taken if, after acceptance by the primates, our recommendations are not implemented] should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops, and, if appropriate, to recommend such action to The Episcopal Church and its institutions and to the Instruments of Communion... take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this scheme and report to the Primates.

In short, this much-dreaded WCG suggestion of a Pastoral Forum is nothing more than the Pastoral Council proposal all over again. Heck, they couldn't even come up with more than 50% of a new name for it!

And we all know how effective that was -- UTTERLY INEFFECTUAL.

Let's do a quick historical review, shall we?
  • PEcUSA was warned that, if they continued their advocacy of the homsexualist heresy by ordaining an openly gay bishop (despite the fact that this is no more a violation of Scripture and Tradition than the ordination of such individuals to the deaconate and priesthood as well) there would be consequences. They ordained Gene Robinson anyway.
  • Then there was a whole flurry of meetings and consultations which resulted in the Windsor Report, saying (section 157) that if PEcUSA didn't stop with the homosexual ordinations and "union" blessings, there would be consequences. They kept up with them anyway.
  • Then there was the Primates meeting at Dar Es Salaam which issued a statement -- with which Dr. Schori agreed at least until she was safely back in the U.S. and could say that she had no power to agree and never actually agreed anyway -- saying that if they didn't change their course, there would be consequences. They stayed on the same course anyway.
  • Then various people suggested that if PEcUSA didn't make adequate response by fall of 2007 they wouldn't be invited to Lambeth. They didn't make adequate response. Williams invited them to Lambeth anyway.
And now the Windsor Continuation Group is saying that yet another committee ought to be formed to monitor the situation and, if things don't change, "offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion" should result.

Wanna bet that, if PEcUSA (to the surprise of all) still doesn't change direction, the Forum might just recommend... the formation of another committee?!! Assuming, that is, that the WCG's proposed "Pastoral Forum" actual manages to do what the Primate's proposed "Pastoral Council" never managed to do... i.e. anything at all.

More than that, you'll recall that the Windsor Report clearly stated that the irregular boundary-crossings which had resulted from reactions to PEcUSA's apostasy were not as serious a problem as that apostasy itself. That the unilateral abandonment of Christian and Anglican standards by PEcUSA in gay ordinations and marriages was the chief cause of division, and these boundary-crossings simply a response to them. All three issues were cited as inappropriate, but the boundary-crossings issue was -- because it was caused by and a reaction to the former -- the least serious.

All sense of that perspective is lost in the WCG's report. It makes no difference of nature or degree in its call for
the complete cessation of a) the celebration of blessings for same-sex unions, b) consecrations of those living in openly gay relationships, and c) all cross border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction.
And its threats of "discipline" (even if they amount to nothing more than proposing a discussion about the possibility of forming another committee to discuss the possibility of discipline) apply equally as well:
It could also offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion might be appropriate where any of the three moratoria are broken.

And you get an indication of just what sort of non-existent support to Episcopalians who wish to flee their organization's apostasy (assuming there are any such Episcopalians left, and it isn't now just institutionalists willing to sacrifice all fidelity to the faith for the sake of fidelity to the unfaithful organization) when the WCG's report says:
We are encouraged by the planned setting up of the Communion Partners initiative in the Episcopal Church as a means of sustaining those who feel at odds with developments taking place in their own Province but who wish to be loyal to, and to maintain, their fellowship within TEC and within the Anglican Communion.
I've already pointed out, by examining the details of PEcUSA's CPP program and membership, just what an empty, meaningless shell it is -- nothing more than a celebrated version of existing policy. Yet such emptiness is, apparently, exactly what the WCG is praising and encouraging.

So, there you have it, folks. The earth-shattering suggestions of the Windsor Continuation Group. And they do, indeed, continue -- continue to offer simply more of the same: talk and no action, endless committees, and vague, substance-less, meaningless, impotent hand-waving at irrelevant and unenforceable "consequences". Committees forming committees forming committees...

Congratulations people.

The Anglican Communion has finally gone completely fractal. Or, to put it more bluntly: FRACT UP

Now go away, or we shall committee you a second time!


Anonymous said...

The only effective remedy was only ever going to come from the US Courts

(since US Christians don't seem willing to take the matter into their own hands, and deliver Christian justice to the apostates, except, perhaps, in Texas :-)

So - if you want to remain Christian; if you want to remain saved; the call is the same as it has been for the last five years: get out of TEC

get the keys and titles to your buildings.
get some trespass orders.
get some guns and enforce your ownership.

and run - don't walk - to the Primates' Council and humbly petition for your ministry to be authorised as Christian.