Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Mark Sisk of New York spoke about the Lambeth Conference today on a web cast. The conversation, a kind of modified press conference with viewers e-mailing questions, will be available soon at episcopalchurch.org
Here are a few things that struck me, feel free to add your own observations in the comments, but remember, we require you to use your full name.
I was encouraged by what both bishops had to say about the future of the proposed Anglican Covenant. The appendix of the St. Andrew’s Draft of the covenant, which provides detailed and convoluted procedures by which one province might prosecute and eventually marginalize another, appears to be dead in the water.
The Presiding Bishop said there was “great unanimity in rejecting the latter portions” of the covenant among the bishops at the conference. Bishop Sisk said he felt “great relief” in hearing “almost universally” that the bishops had “no desire to have the coercive element in it.”
Regarding the timetable for ratification of a covenant, Bishop Sisk said he didn’t think we would receive the document—which must be approved by the Anglican Consultative Council in May—in time to give it careful consideration before our General Convention in July.
Regarding the moratoria on the consecration of gay bishops living with partners and on the authorization of rites to bless same sex relationships, Bishop Sisk said he was surprised by “the extent to which the ‘gracious restraint’ the Episcopal Church has adopted was unknown.”
(Gracious restraint is code phrase for “swallowing our consciences on issues regarding glbt people for the sake of unity in the Anglican Communion.”)
Sisk said this restraint had been “enacted at great cost” and that “the spirit I find is one of willingly providing that restraint.”
If you are hoping that the General Convention will overturn or otherwise modify Resolution B033 of 2006, you have work to do in the House of Bishops, because Mark Sisk is hardly a conservative.
Bishop Jefferts Schori also spoke about the “Lack of information and the misinformation” that exists about “this Episcopal Church of ours.” She said she was asked whether the Episcopal Church held to the basic statements of the creed, etc. “Not everybody believes that we believe them,” she said.
Bishop Sisk said that the Episcopal Church is “by no means alone” in working for full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians. He was pleased at “the number of other provinces across the Communion who are very supportive of the kinds of concerns we are trying to address.” However, he added, that in many parts of the Communion, association with a church that is perceived to be “pro gay” is dangerous. This is especially true in areas in which Christians constitute a small religious minority.
“Their lives are quite literally in danger,” he said. “[It is] yet another excuse for the dominant culture to demean them and sometimes violently so.”
He also said that many bishops in the developing world were frustrated by the amount of time spent discussing sex at the conference.
The Presiding Bishop said she was not optimistic that incursions by conservative primates into liberal jurisdictions would stop. She also said that the Archbishop of Canterbury may be coming to the United States to raise money to help pay the debt of the Lambeth Conference, which is estimated to be about $2 million.