September 24, 2007
By Pat McCaughan
[Episcopal News Service, New Orleans] Solidarity with the disenfranchised guided the discussion September 24 as the House of Bishops began to draft its formal statement to the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion culminating its five-day meeting in New Orleans.
Bishops suggested strengthening language regarding the incursion of overseas bishops into dioceses other than their own, and dividing the lengthy draft into two separate documents. One text would deal specifically with hurricane relief and the other with the response to the Primates' communiqué issued in February.
Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana and numerous others suggested that a statement be developed to highlight the need for justice work in all dioceses on issues such as racism, classism, as well as the failed response for hurricane victims. Another document would deal with the response to the February Primates' communiqué.
Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. of Ohio said "Resolution B033
(http://gc2006.org/legislation/view_leg_detail.aspx?id=433&type=CURRENT) is the most honest expression of where the Episcopal Church stands" while asking to clarify language about the blessing of same-gender unions. B033 called for the exercise of restraint when consecrating bishops "whose manner of life" presents a challenge to the wider communion.
Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles also said that the resolution needs to be clearer in saying "that we're going to abide by the decisions of General Convention."
Bishop Wayne Wright of Delaware, who chaired the writing committee, cautioned that the discussion was about a "draft only" and that a final statement would not be released until it had been adopted on September 25 by the bishops. The document itself was withheld and its contents embargoed until it can be finalized.
"This is only a draft," Wright emphasized. "Tomorrow we will perfect and adopt it and then it will be released."
The document is expected to serve as a response to the Primates' communiqué.
After receiving the initial draft, bishops conferred with one another briefly at their tables. Some bishops then moved to microphones to offer responses frequently interrupted with applause and encouragement.
"This process represents what is best about the Episcopal Church and how our bishops work together; our meetings are open and we work together as colleagues to develop a statement that will express fully our minds and our hearts," committee chair Wright said.
Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California called for strengthening of language regarding bishops' incursions into geographic dioceses other than their own. "General Convention voted for resolution B033 and we stand by what they did," he told bishops.
After spending a day involved in hurricane rebuilding and recovery efforts, bishops said they were "shocked and outraged" at conditions in New Orleans and Mississippi, including delayed and in some cases nonexistent rebuilding and recovery efforts.
Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina voiced his own sense of "fury at dishonest contractors' exploitation" of hurricane victims, many of whom two years later still face overwhelming devastation. His remarks were heartily applauded.
-- The Rev. Patricia McCaughan is senior associate for parish life at St.
George's Church and Academy in Laguna Hills, California. She is also a correspondent for the Diocese of Los Angeles and Episcopal News Service.