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Re: Integrity Statement on Oporto Communique
XXXX, you wrote:
> I think two things would be necessary in order to have (I don't think I can
> honestly say "continue") meaningful dialogue.
> First, those who are violating the position of our Church by ordaining
> self-avowed non-celebate homosexuals would have to agree to stop doing this
> for the duration in order to make dialogue possible. I'm afraid the
> chances of this happening are slim to none, but I don't see how any kind of
> meaningful dialogue can take place without it. You may remember that this
> kind of moratorium was requested at General Convention the first time
> "dialogue" was proposed (1991?), but was refused--and rejected by a
> substantial majority, if I remember correctly.
XXXX, I agree that it would be very much nicer to have quiet time in which
all sides could carefully consider the consequences of proposed actions
without fear of being held hostage by the other side. Your proposal for a
moratorium on ordaining lesbigays involved in relations would be much
more cogent were you also to propose a moratorium on all ordinations of
anyone until we could reach a concensus. Each side would then be under
the same restraints and share an equal urgency.
General Convention promised dialogue in 1982, 1985, and 1988. That check
bounced in most dioceses, especially in those who were opposed to
ordaining lesbigays and blessing our relationships. In 1991 even the
Convention itself realized that 'dialogue' was only a delaying tactic
unless it established a mechanism to facilitate and monitor the dialogue,
namely the O'Kelley Whitaker Commission. That Commission reported to the
1994 General Convention much more widespread support for lesbigays than
anyone had imagined. By 1997 we passed a CANON (not a mere resolution)
assuring lesbigays access to the ordination process (with no requirement
that they must not be in relationships) and passed a resolution that
allows dioceses that want to, to provide benefits to the same-sex partners
of employees. We came within one vote in each order in the House of
Deputies of calling for a liturgy to bless same-sex unions.
Please note that lesbigays and straights do not come to dialogue with
equal risks; the toll on lesbigays is enormously greater, and many
lesbigays who have witnessed again and again complain of the spiritual
voyeurism of many of these sessions. Some now tell me, "If straight folks
cannot figure it out for themselves now, it's their problem. We need to
get on with our lives." I personally do not take that view: there is no
time certain at which I as a Christian am told that I no longer need to
take up my cross and follow Jesus. Whole regions of the country formerly
not open to dialogue, now are. Look at the swath of support for lesbigays
across new parts of ECUSA following Lambeth, as seen on a map showing
dioceses whose bishops signed the pastoral to lesbigays after Lambeth, at
In 1991 the Howe Resolution (initially the Frey resolution) sought to
re-state the 1979 Resolution forbidding ordinations of lesbigays involved
in relations: the resolution failed, and instead, the Convention adopted
a statement that faithful people on both sides of the issue were in
discontinuity on this issue. Many dioceses who had been waiting for some
signal that they could respond to the Holy Spirit's bidding and do so in
good faith within ECUSA took both of these actions as a sign to act.
You have consistently maintained that the 1979 advisory resolution
forbidding such ordinations is the policy of our church. My diocese and
Bishop Walter Righter did not agree when he ordained Barry Stopfel, and
ECUSA's Court for the Trial of a Bishop on May 15, 1996, acquitted Bishop
Righter. The 1979 resolution is not binding.
> Second, there would have to be material prepared for use which is not
> propaganda for either side, but which would take seriously the positions of
> each side and attempt to present them fairly. This would be much easier to
> achieve than the first, IMHO. The report of the Standing Liturgical
> Commission to GC 2000 might be a good start. I haven't studied it
> thoroughly, but my impression from skimming it is that it is reasonably
I have found that one person's serious reflections are another person's
propaganda. I would rather read, reflect, and inwardly digest what my
adversary carefully prepares to promote her views than to read some
allegedly objective account of my adversary's views. I find that I don't
need to switch from 'propaganda' to something else, but to switch my mind
to read the 'propaganda' as something else, namely as a faithful witness.
That's hard to do, but vital work in reconciliation, to hear one's
adversaries' perspectives as much as possible from inside those
perspectives rather than to dismiss them as 'propaganda.'
Sometimes those who want to claim the "middle" as "objective," are on
power plays of their own. ('Pontiff' originally meant 'a bridge, but many
pontiffs, enthralled by the power, to 'pontificated.') Sometimes
'objective' arbiters don't give a fig for either 'side' about which they
propose to be 'objective.'
Reconciliation worth the name should not be just an enforced stalemate
during which opposing sides grit their teeth at one another in the
presence of heavy-handed 'mediators'; reconciliation minimally should
nurture trust and respect of one's adversaries and to the extent possible,
a way of accommodating the consciences of each and a way of preserving
safe spaces for each.
Even the exercise of providing safe spaces is fraught with pitfalls.
Many on both sides of the 'women's ordination' issue of two decades ago
now suggest that the Port St. Lucie document, by which the House of
Bishops unilaterally allowed individual bishops to violate the policy of
ECUSA on grounds of conscience, is the source of much of the current
authority problems of that House.
> There might be a real possibility of this kind of dialogue if
> Integrity would support it; the real sticking point, of course, would
> be the first thing I mentioned.
> I'm sending a copy of this note to Louie Crew as well. I have great
> respect for you, Louie, and for the reconciliation attempt that you are
> beginning. You might think about these suggestions in that context.
At your suggestion, I am sharing this exchange with Integrity. May I have
your permission to share this note with the bishop-deputy discussion list
Thanks for your kind words about me personally. I hope I can earn your
Keep us in your prayers. Please encourage leaders who hold your views to
participate. Nominate them. You can review the details at the website of
the New Commandment Task Force at http://users.aol.com/newcmndment
Louie Crew, Chair, Diocese of Newark Deputation to GC2000
377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225. 973-395-1068
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/rel.html Anglican Pages
There are 87 days left until General Convention.