Friday, September 5, 2008

Lambeth encounters strengthened relationships

Tensions linger as bishops discuss covenant, moratoria
By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[Episcopal Life] How one perceives the outcome of the 2008 Lambeth
Conference depends in large part on what criteria are applied.

If the basis for discerning the success of the decennial gathering of
Anglican bishops is whether the bishops resolved the tensions pulling at the
communion, the answer would have to be no.

If, on the other hand, the basis of that discernment is whether the bishops
committed themselves to remaining in communion -- and communication --
with each other, then the answer would have to be yes.

In between those two extremes remain, as always, many shades of gray and
varying degrees of uncertainty as the communion's members face what will be
a year or more of meetings, conversations and predictions of lines drawn in
the sand.


The section of the reflections document dealing with human sexuality
reiterates the disagreements and divisions facing the communion and lists
some possible solutions offered by the bishops.

They range from "decisive action" -- to live out Jesus' teaching in Matthew
5:29 that if your right eye causes you to sin, it ought to be torn out and thrown away -- to declaring a "Decade of Sharing and Generosity."

There is, the document says, a desire "from all quarters" to uphold Windsor
Report-recommended moratoria on ordinations of persons living in a
same-gender unions to the episcopate, on authorized public rites for
blessing same-gender unions, and on cross-border incursions by bishops.
However, it cautions that the moratoria "will be difficult to uphold."

There were also "many positive responses to the idea" of a proposed Anglican
covenant, the reflections document reports. Also reported is a "strong
sense" that the appendix of the current St. Andrew's Draft (called Framework
Procedures for the Resolution
of Covenant Disputes) "could be too legalistic, too difficult to implement
and too punitive."

The outcome of the Lambeth Conference will be discussed over the next months
in a series of meetings.

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops is due to meet September 17-19 in
Salt Lake City.

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