I had a telephone conversation with Griffith last night; I called him because I had heard a bunch of this stuff too:
- A group of active and retired bishops, all or most of them former attorneys, delivered a roughly 100-page report yesterday (9-13-07) to the Episcopal Church House of Bishops, accompanied by an “audio version” on disc. Among the authors, we predict, are the disgraced Joe Morris Doss, and Bishop of Lexington Stacy Sauls. Both bishops are attorneys. The nature of this report is a “kick the can” proposal that includes at least two notable angles: The case as to why the HoB cannot reply to the demands of the Dar es Salaam communique (evidently a very detailed version of the ‘polity’ line the HoB has been peddling since its meeting in March); and some use of the data solicited by Sauls two weeks ago regarding the number and status of churches under foreign oversight. The latter may be part of a proposal to bring those churches ‘back into the fold’ somehow. As a whole, the document is to be offered as a ‘solution,’ but in fact defers all decisions to General Convention 2009.
- As reported earlier, Presiding Bishop Schori will present a modified primatial vicar plan. The proposed vicar will not be Bishop Howe of Central Florida. It will be a loyal institutionalist, slightly left of center, not known for speaking out one way or the other in the debate, and not in attendance at a single Camp Allen meeting. The plan has been devised without consulting the dioceses that originally requested alternative oversight. As noted in TLC’s article, Bishop Iker of Fort Worth has already declared such a plan dead on arrival.
- Archbishop Williams will arrive in New Orleans with a proposal of his own. The prediction is that it will be the most accommodating to the orthodox of all the plans.
That’s what we expect to open next week with in advance of New Orleans.
Speculations from various parties. Some are mine, some are others’. I vouch for none. wink
- 815 is looking to settle property and jurisdictional matters before things get completely out of hand. Some claim that in several dioceses, the pockets of those who are determined not to let 815 have their property are, collectively, far deeper than what 815 can devote to litigate. The implication is that 815 knows – as wealthy as it is – that it does not have the resources to litigate anywhere near all of the cases it expects will arise following a failure to salvage its place in the communion. If the choice faced by, say, two thousand parishes is to stay in the Episcopal Church and be cut off from the communion, there’s little doubt a very large percentage of them will decide they have reached the limits of their patience, and, come what may, take their property and leave.
The same would be true should the communion fracture into two or more pieces: With no more communion as we know it from which to risk separation by leaving TEC, the decision whether to remain a member, or strike out and take their chances, becomes a much easier one.
Others point out that Newark and other liberal standard-bearer dioceses are in dire financial straits (Newark has been steadily closing churches; Eastern Michigan recently had to sell its cathedral). Louisiana is on the ropes, having never fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina. The financial future of several other dioceses is anything but assured. Despite its saber-rattling in the courts, 815 may in fact be looking for nothing so much as a church-wide property settlement model that generally accrues to its benefit, but is not the scorched-earth approach to which we’ve so far been treated.
- Schori is positioning herself as the good cop, between the bad cops of (depending on the side you take in this debate) Rowan Williams on one end and the Sauls/Doss lawyer-bishops on the other. The former presents a plan that’s unacceptable to the left wing; the latter presents a plan that’s unacceptable to the right wing; Schori gets to step forward with a ‘compromise’ designed to look perfectly reasonable.
- By presenting a plan she knows is unacceptable to the dioceses for which it is intended, but which looks quite reasonable in comparison to the lawyer-bishops’ and Rowan Williams’ plans, Schori’s intention is to finally and irrevocably split not only the “Windsor” bloc, but the Network itself: +Duncan, +Iker, +Schofield and +Ackerman have no intention of accepting it, but the bloc represented by +Stanton and +Wimberly will find it extremely difficult to agree that it’s unworkable. +Howe’s endorsement is a foregone conclusion. The question is whether the rest of the Windsor bishops will stand unified, and regular readers of this site will know what we think the chances of that are. The idea is for Schori to get close enough to the Dar PV plan to look like she’s acting in good faith, but not so close as to make it easier on the APO dioceses to head for the exits. The result is that Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin are more easily pigeonholed as unreasonable schismatics; they proceed to leave the Episcopal Church; and the right’s strength is cut roughly in half. Will Schori’s plan go so far as to include some kind of requirement of accession, thereby requiring controversial cessations or reversals of actions recently taken by Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, and Quincy; and presumably later today by Fort Worth?
- What kind of pressure will be needed – or may even be expected – from the primates, particularly +Gomez and +Venables, whose presence at the Kenyan consecrations was unmistakably a show of unity with the American orthodox and the Global South? The famously com-con +Venables and +Gomez have shown signs recently of having given up on Rowan Williams’ glacial approach to the crisis. If, as expected, chaos is the order of the day in New Orleans, does it mean that similar chaos is in store for the wider communion? Do we then proceed into a future where non-geographical alliances of theology and affinity, both nationally and internationally, are the norm?
Expect plenty of developments today and tomorrow.
Oh, and the Primatial Vicar is not going to be +Bruce MacPherson, based on what I’ve heard, since I figure someone would ask. It is not going to be a Camp Allen bishop, I don’t think.