I already covered this in my previous report on the second Tuesday afternoon press conference, but I reprint it here and expand upon it because it is, in my mind, probably the most important feature of the mind of the house statement.
I asked Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori why the mind of the house statement said:
"We ... pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of same-sex blessings until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action" (emphasis my own)
instead of: "unless a broader consensus ... unless General Convention ..."
as the primates' communique said.
The presiding bishop responded that "until" was Windsor language. I concurred and asked if any bishop objected to the use of "until" as opposed to "unless," and she replied, "no." She could not recall any opposition to this major shift in wording.
That's incredible. Let's remember that while the Windsor Report said "until," the primates deliberately changed that word to "unless."
There's a huge difference here. The primates asked the House of Bishops for assurances that they would stop same-sex blessings and stop consenting to the consecration of bishops in a same-sex relationship unless the mind of the Communion ever changed on these matters.
Now the Episcopal Church is saying, essentially, that the mind of the Communion inevitably will change -- or, at absolute minimum, that's a strong hope. Any moratoria -- a word intentionally left out of the statement -- will only be temporary. And the Episcopal Church is only concerned about stopping the "authorization" of "public rites" that currently do not exist. Local same-sex blessings will continue.
Apparently part of the Episcopal Church's mission is now to witness to the Anglican Communion of the rightness of the "full inclusion" of gays and lesbians. This mind of the house statement only maintains the status quo for as long as the mind of the Episcopal Church does not change -- and there's no doubt that there will be a major push in 2009 to reverse the current state of affairs.