Afternoon update from New Orleans
September 20, 2007
Bishop John Rabb of Maryland and Bishop Robert O’Neill of Colorado just completed their day-end media briefing from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans.
According to the bishops, it was a day full of ‘respectful’ yet ‘passionate’ conversation around tables, dialogue which went on through the mortification of boxed lunches (in New Orleans!) and into overtime by almost an hour. Not much breaking news.
This is how the day played out: first came the bishops and, according to Bishop O’Neill, their “reflections on the issues before us.” Then came the Archbishop of Canterbury who “set a context for our conversation.” Table groups of bishops discussed among themselves, posted their thoughts and shared them with the room. Tomorrow morning the Joint Standing Committee visitors get their chance to share reflections. Are you riveted yet?
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave the bishops two “general” questions for study. Bishop Rabb reported them this way: first, how do the bishops see the specifics of their role as bishops? And second, how do the bishops see themselves providing appropriate pastoral care for the church?
The tough questions all got batted away: did the Archbishop discuss “jurisdiction?” O’Neill said, “ all I can say is the subject came up and we had conversation about it.”
David Virtue of Virtue Online wanted to know, “What about the eight bishops being appointed to serve as Episcopal visitors to the orthodox?” O’Neill again, “there was nothing conclusive on that.” Local Times Picayune reporter Bruce Nolan asked, “what’s the nature of that oversight? Will it be fully pastoral.” O’Neill said Bishop Katharine would have to answer that.
One reporter wondered, “did Lambeth come up?” That got a loud, you-bet-it-did laugh from the two bishops. Then David Virtue asked if Gene Robinson would be invited. Can you guess the answer? O’Neill: “Only the Archbishop of Canterbury can answer that.”
The AP wanted to know, “who is going to decide whether the Episcopal Church has responded to the Dar Es Salaam Communique…?” Bishop Rabb said, “it is the Primates who will have to decide that.”
Intriguing question from orthodox Anglican TV, considering the source: “what is the Archbishop of Canterbury doing here, is he here as as a member of the Joint Standing Committee or…? Rabb said, “He’s here as the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
The New York Times wondered whether there was a sense that the stakes are getting higher? And whether among the American bishops who spoke there was some majority opinion emerging. Bishop O’Neill answered (and I hope I’ve got this right):
“I think the best way to characterize our conversation is that collectively as a House of we take our responsibilities very seriously. The conversation today reflected a passionate commitment to the vitality and life of The Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion.” I have no reason to doubt it. But so far the serious passion remains behind closed doors. And even though that makes for dull blogs like this one, maybe that privacy is not such a bad thing.
On to the Convention Center and +Rowan preaching “to thousands” as the press releases say.