mind the truth, here’s the Windsor Report
CULTURE has its myths and America, being a young country, has ones based in the
not-so-distant past. This annoys Europeans, who regard it as immature of us to
see complex issues in terms of, say, the Wild West. Immature or not, the lure of
Frontier mythology can lead to a certain naively in the American psyche.
like to imagine that the ‘good guys’ always win, even if rescued at the last
moment by a charge of the proverbial 7th Cavalry. Conservative Anglicans have
been hoping for just this sort of charge for a very long time and more than a
few thought to find the tip of the spear in the Windsor Report. They had hoped
that finally orthodox Anglicanism would rally to their cause and deal out the
kind of discipline required to reverse the revisionist stranglehold on ECUSA.
What they got was very different fare indeed.
from issuing a call to repentance, the Windsor Report timidly recommends that
ECUSA expresses regret for breaching the ‘bonds of affection’, and invites
the Robinson consecrators to voluntarily withdraw from representative functions
in the communion. Interestingly, they are to seek the advice of the chief
consecrator, their primate, for the proper formation of their consciences. This
demonstrates the report’s seemingly overwhelming concern to preserve
institutional unity at the risk of truth. The latter deals in right and wrong,
sin and repentance, the former with compliance.
the framers of the Windsor Report, it is just this lack of compliance that
constitutes wrongdoing and such light malfeasance will never merit much more
than an ‘invitation to regret’. Nor does it in the report, with Eames
himself stating that the commission’s recommendation is not a ‘judgment’
but a ‘process’. Just so, but it is precisely some kind of judgment that
conservatives and the bulk of the communion feel is needed. They haven’t got
it; they have got a ‘pilgrimage’ of ‘regret’, but regret for whom?
Certainly not for the Robinson consecrators and the bulk of General Convention
2003, who apparently remain largely unchallenged in their position of power. But
most certainly for those priests and people who have had the temerity to
threaten the institutional unity of ECUSA by inviting traditionalist bishops to
function in liberal dioceses.
report condemns these as strongly as it does those who engendered the crisis in
the first place. More than this, it wholly endorses the revisionist-backed DEPO,
whose failure has been a significant factor in boundaries being crossed in the
wonder then that conservatives feel betrayed and let down. ‘The Windsor Report
says Robert England in The Christian Challenge. Fr Moyer and Fr Ostman of FiFNA
are more stringent:
is nothing offered for a world-wide solution to address the schismatic state of
the Anglican Communion.’ The Network expresses more of the same; the report
‘fails to discipline’. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that
Archbishop Hepworth of the TAC has reacted with ‘anger and deep hurt’. Nor
is it remarkable that the leader of 17 million Nigerian Anglicans, Archbishop
Akinola, expresses barely concealed anger: ‘Where is the language of rebuke
for those who are promoting sexual sins as holy and acceptable behavior?’
Well, it isn’t there, which has no doubt prompted displays of revisionist
confidence in the wake of October 18th.
speaks for them: ‘We are pleased that the Commission has not recommended the
suspension or expulsion of the ECUSA, or called for Robinson to resign. We note
that the report does not ask for repentance from the Episcopal Church and we
welcome the desire for reconciliation while buttressing the line that bishops
should not offer ministry outside their own diocese.’
is more tactful but no less unrepentant: ‘However, unless we go beyond
containment and move to some deeper place of acknowledging and making room for
the differences that will doubtless continue to be present in our Communion, we
will do disservice to our mission.’ The containment in question being a
cessation of activity that puts the communion at risk. Griswold will not repent
of this, but neither was he asked to; he was invited to show regret and he does,
but not for the consecration over which he presided, only for the hurt caused to
we regret how difficult and painful actions of our church have been in many
provinces of our Communion, and the negative repercussions that have been felt
by brother and sister Anglicans.’
report has obviously failed to achieve the ‘change of outlook’ that it
recommends for the future wellbeing of the communion. But does it have more
force than at first
the eye? Some think that it has. In its irenic manner, the commission recommends
a moratorium on future Robinson-style consecrations and same sex blessings. Or,
to put it another way, it’s telling ECUSA to put the brakes on its agreed
agenda or face the consequences. What these might be are hinted at, ‘as an
absolute last resort, withdrawal from membership’. History argues against the
revisionists applying these brakes, but, whether they do or not, all well and
good, the ultimate result being the same. If the report goes some way towards
putting the necessary machinery in place for this, it might be possible for a
seemingly toothless recommendation to gum ECUSA into submission.
seems unlikely because the majority of conservatives appear as willing to accept
the report as they have the DEPO it recommends. By the same token, men and women
with same sex partners will go through the ordination process in ECUSA in 2005.
Some of them will have their relationships blessed and orthodox bishops will be
invited to confirm and ordain regardless of the local ordinary’s permission.
That much has remained unchanged, only now ECUSA heretics have a new item in
their armoury, the Windsor Report, and we may be sure that they will not
hesitate to use it to discipline those who remain faithful to the Church’s
teaching on faith and morals. So, instead of finding themselves rescued by a
squadron of mythic cavalry, conservative Anglicans have found themselves
ambushed by what can at best be described as ‘friendly fire’. There should
be no amazement in this, for a commission that holds up the ordination and
consecration of women to holy orders as an acceptable model for future unity in
the communion is as likely to succeed as those orders themselves to become
a rescue is needed is beyond doubt, we must question the ability of the
communion as it now stands to provide one. Americans could do worse search their
own continent more thoroughly for a solution, they must continue to hope against
hope for an answer from foreign shores.
Heidt is parish priest of St Luke’s, Bladensburg, Washington DC.
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