Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Does D025 supersede B033?

Some say Yes. Some say No. A commenter on a post below suggests I, Bishop Tom Wright and all are too hasty in assuming that B033 days are numbered. I turn therefore to Mark Harris of Preludium. I respect Mark. He is at the Convention. He says this:

"It is helpful to remember that B033 was itself not a clear moratorium, but rather a church-wide cautionary urging. It was as close as the last convention could get to a moratorium and was understood to make it virtually impossible for a gay - in - relationship bishop elect to get the required consents from bishops and standing committees of dioceses. What D025 does is to return the matter of restraint to the diocese and its bishop, and retains the canonical provisions for election to the Episcopate in place. The end result is that bishops and standing committees are free to exercise their conscience as always."

I understand this to mean that it is possible that TEC might continue to observe a moratorium in the sense that each and every diocese will choose not to present gay and lesbian candidates. However we can observe that such candidates were presented for election in the past three years. What Mark Harris says is also consistent with the possibility that if and when a gay or lesbian bishop-elect is presented for confirmation to the whole church, the majority of bishops and standing committees might choose to accede to the spirit of B033 and not give consent.

But when Mark says that B033 was not itself a clear moratorium and that D025 makes a change to the situation ("return"), I fail to see that B033 has any legislative power to restrain TEC should its mood be to move beyond the spirit of B033. In other words, a TEC spokesperson can say that B033 remains in place, but the effect of D025 means that it cannot be confidently said that it remains in force. Not least because it never had any force in itself, although it did give voice to a wish of TEC to restrain from ordaining further gay or lesbian bishops.

I am sure +Tom Wright and many other commentators who share my view that restraint is at an end with D025 will be happy to be proven wrong!

2 comments:

Revd John P Richardson said...

I seriously believe that this sort of 'D025 doesn't really affect B033' language is a policy to sow confusion amongst the rest of the Communion, especially people like Rowan Williams, who, for good reasons, wants to 'think the best' of others. See, for example, the article here in The Living Church, where one Bishop Sauls addresses him directly.

The "Have we got it wrong?" question is exactly what this is intended to raise. Yet anyone who reflects for a moment on the overall agenda of the General Convention will see that, especially in the light of TEC's trajectory to date, "we" have got it entirely right.

It does remind me of the posturing of Hitler's Germany and the reactions of Allied nations in the lead up to WW2. Over against clear evidence that Germany was re-arming with a view to war, there were those who wondered in themselves whether these really were just 'defensive measures' - a doubt which I am sure Hitler was happy exploit.

This is not to say that TEC=Hitler, but it is to observe that we must keep a clear eye on the established facts.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John
We must observe carefully!
I think we must also allow that there are a range of voices in TEC - not all of which are aiming to sow confusion!
Thank you for your post which I have just read.