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COLUMBUS, OH: Conservative Bishops Helped Elect Jefferts Schori

COLUMBUS, OH: Conservative Bishops Helped Elect Jefferts Schori
Procedural questions raised over B033 vote to stay in the Anglican Communion

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

At least four perhaps as many as nine (or more) orthodox Episcopal Church (TEC) bishops joined in voting for Katharine Jefferts Schori as TEC's new presiding bishop at the just-concluded General Convention in Ohio, in order to send a signal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the wider Anglican Communion about the bankrupt state of the U.S. Church.

A source who agreed to speak to VOL on an anonymous basis claims the bishops did it to "subvert", unsettle and show the bankruptcy of the TEC and the Communion. "They did it to subvert The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and to throw it into chaos," said the source who agreed to speak to VOL on the basis of anonymity.

"Their motive was to demonstrate that the ECUSA is so out of touch with the rest of the Communion. At least three of the four are retired, and one of the three who is retired, persuaded the others," VOL was told.

It is unclear whether, if the conservative bishops had supported another candidate, that they would have denied Jefferts Schori the election.

"Their motive was to demonstrate that ECUSA is so out of touch with the rest of the Communion." VOL was told.

THE SAME SOURCE lodged complaints about events on the General Convention's closing day on Wednesday, when outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold called a special session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, for the purpose of securing the convention's agreement on a resolution intended to provide some evidence that TEC is playing by the rules and wants to stay in the Communion. The resolution, B033, called on bishops to "exercise restraint" by not consenting to the consecration of future gay bishops.

Our source maintains that Griswold defied the Roberts Rules of Order and cut off a roll call vote in the House of Bishops with only 30 minutes of debate after over three years of contending with the most important issue in the Anglican Communion. "We got what he demanded in order to keep us at the table of the Anglican Communion," said the source. "After the vote on Wednesday morning, many if not most of the bishops were outraged at what Griswold had done," he claimed.

"Furthermore, it was illegal for the House of Deputies to revisit the issue," he asserted, apparently referring to the fact that the Deputies had defeated the day before another resolution which also called on the church to "refrain from" consecrating actively gay bishops. "The rules for the House of Deputies are very clear that you may not reconsider a resolution for a second time unless there is a unanimous vote. There wasn't one," he maintained.

Both Griswold and Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori said (in effect) "We must have this or we may be thrown out of the Anglican Communion." Both houses caved into that, VOL was told.

It was permissible for the House of Bishops to look at a new resolution said the source, they did not violate the rules. But a roll call vote after two amendments was denied, and the original resolution was pushed through by Griswold who overrode several of Robert's Rules to get it through.

There was no objection in the morning by the conservatives. In the afternoon, however, Griswold invited everyone to have a half hour "private" conversation at tables (a favorite tactic of Griswold) in order to "dissipate all the energy." Instead there was speech after speech to the House of Bishops..

"The bishops who were outraged by what had happened in the morning came from both the left and the right. What was being presented to the Episcopal Church was an agreement that claimed to have a majority of support when it in fact had little or none," said the source.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, some 20 bishops issued what they called a "statement of conscience" saying they dissented from the action of this Convention in Resolution B033 (on Election of Bishops). They said they did so because the process used to arrive at Resolution B033 raised serious concerns about the integrity of the decision-making process as a Church.

"We were never given an opportunity to act upon it. Instead, we were presented with a different resolution this morning, and were given only 30 minutes for debate and discussion. This resolution bears great consequences both for the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church and unfortunately was not adequately discussed."

VirtueOnline was told that the number who signed this statement was approximately 20 and their names will never be revealed. Only the secretary of the House of Bishops has the list and will not reveal it. Similarly, about a dozen bishops on the "right" dissented from the vote both on substance and the way it was taken. They then walked out of the meeting, and did not return. One has to question whether the "decision" made by this Convention has any real backing by either House, or whether it conforms in any sense whatsoever to the requests of the Windsor Report.


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