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GC2009: Retired Bishop Says General Convention Should Supersede B033

GC2009: Retired Bishop Says General Convention Should Supersede B033

News Analysis

By Michael Heidt
Special Correspondent

Barbara Harris, the radical retired suffragan bishop of Massachusetts, lived up to her controversial reputation at last night's Integrity Eucharist. Sharing the stage with the homoerotic Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, Harris spoke out against resolution B033, which limits episcopal consecration to heterosexuals. "Resolution B033 needs to be superseded," said the wizened African American, champion of TEC's sexual revolution.

"Superseded"? Why not rescind it altogether? Harris didn't feel that course of action was likely to be successful because of the intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had urged TEC not to enact legislation which would "drive us further apart," or in Harris' words, "Don't make another unilateral move on the Communion chessboard". Instead, she recommended that something be adopted which "recognizes the dignity of all God's human people."

The hope here is that the Convention can avoid directly offending the Anglican Communion, which the House of Bishops would like to remain a part of, all the while getting along with justice legislation favored by the House of Deputies and the vocal LGBT advocacy group, Integrity.

Already, some observers are noting, "That chill in the air is not from a Pacific breeze. It's from the small but growing cracks in the relationship between the Houses of Bishops and Deputies." (Center Aisle, Convention News Letter, Diocese of Virginia). Harris' tactic might stave off internal schism and get what she and many others want, "all the sacraments for all the baptized."

For her, a head on attack against B033 may not be the answer because Archbishop Williams and "Communion concerns" have turned that into a dead end. Supersession, not rescindment, might be the answer, as supplied by resolutions such as C033, which states:

"Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention affirm the canonical commitment to full access by members of this Church to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained (Canon III.1.2-3); and be it further Resolved, That this Convention affirm the existing canonical process for the election, consents, and ordination of a bishop in this Church, in which the Christ centered manner of life of candidates and, later, bishops-elect is tested by the theological, moral, and psychological concerns of this Church, understanding that determination of the appropriateness of such election and subsequent consents and ordination includes concerns for the challenges such election may present to members of this church or of other churches in the Anglican Communion;

and be it further... Resolved, That the content of this resolution supersede the content of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention." It could very well be that a simple resolution like C033 (doubtless amended), with an appeal to the existing Canons of The Episcopal Church, will pave the way for Integrity's program of same-sex, bi, and transgender inclusion in the life of TEC - without having to overturn an existent resolution.

That would still be in place, albeit on a forgotten, switched-off back burner of the "National Church's" legislative stove while something fresher opens the way for gay progress.

We'll have to wait and see as to what, exactly, Barbara Harris and her Bisexual battalions have in mind, but that they do was clearly advertised in Harris' sermon.


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