Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Bishop of Central Florida’s Take on the HOB Meeting

The Bishop of Central Florida, +John Howe, has written his diocese on the recommendations of the recent ECUSA House of Bishops’ meeting. And it is probably the most balanced take on the meeting I’ve seen.

In short, he writes that the meeting’s recommendations for General Convention “reach about as far in the direction of Windsor as this Church can possibly reach.

“Unfortunately (in my opinion) not far enough.”

And I think he is correct on both counts. I think some are not giving the House of Bishops enough credit. The steps they are taking to get closer to complying with the Windsor Report are surprising and significant. (Yes. I just defended the HOB, and Hell isn’t freezing over last I’ve heard.)

But they indeed haven’t gone far enough. The pledge to approach episcopal consecrations with caution especially is inadequate and will likely be seen as such by most bishops in the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Swing of California has already demonstrated this inadequacy all too well:

"They're not saying, 'Don't do it.' I was waiting for them to say that," said Swing, who attended a briefing on the report last month.

Swing will retire this year, and three of the seven candidates nominated to replace him leading the diocese are gay.

"We're always seriously cautious; it doesn't say a whole lot more than that," Swing said Monday.

And, as reported by +Howe, the bishops acted like kids looking for loopholes in parental instructions:

Immediately, the questions of some of our bishops were: “And would it be possible for us to exercise ‘extreme caution’ and still confirm the election of a sexually active gay bishop?” “Surely you are not FORBIDDING the confirmation of a sexually active gay bishop, are you?” etc.

And, indeed, there is no prohibition, no moratorium. It is very doubtful the rest of the Communion will find that acceptable, especially given ECUSA’s track record of interpreting just about anything just about any way it pleases.

But even if most of the Communion does accept this, would this “cautious” bridge of fudge keep things together much beyond Lambeth ’08? I doubt it.

In any case, I think +Howe’s thoughts are balanced and on target. I commend his letter to you.

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