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The first of two important meetings has ended in stalemate. We shall see if Texas can do better. In the first meeting, held in New York through the past few days, bishops representing dioceses which seek to be in TEC but not of TEC, met with the Presiding Bishop who is and the Presiding Bishop who is to come; with establishment bishops, moderate bishops, and less conservative conservative bishops to find a way to resolve the present crisis.

It took three days to come up with the following report:

“We had honest and frank conversations that confronted the depth of the conflicts that we face. We recognized the need to provide sufficient space, but were unable to come to common agreement on the way forward.We could not come to consensus on a common plan to move forward to meet the needs of the dioceses that issued the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight. The level of openness and charity in this conference allow us to pledge to hold one another in prayer and to work together until we have reached the solution God holds out for us.”

Those used to what I term 815 Mandarin, may be able to interpret the report readily. For others I supply this brief translation. The report says everyone had a chance to speak and “share”, all agreed that there ought to be “space” for everyone, or maybe space for some, but no agreement emerged about how to get to the space, or what the space looks like. Indeed it all sounds very spacey.

Having realized that there was no common agreement on a plan to help the grieving dioceses, the report goes on to agree that everyone would pray for everyone hoping that God might step in to provide the solution and answer the prayers.

One can’t imagine what useful purpose such a report serves. It states the obvious and ends in cant.

It would seem to me that it might be a good idea if the bishops all read Tom Wright’s little book: “Simply Christian.” It’s a delightful read. It demonstrates the Bishop of Durham’s ability to speak clearly to ordinary people. In the process he gently steps on the toes of fundamentalists and liberals and everyone in between. Wright, I think, asks the Church, asks our Church to get beneath our divisions and capture once again the vision of who we are and whom we serve. There’s certainly enough about justice to satisfy any liberal, enough about the visible church to delight the Catholic and enough about the Bible to resonate with the evangelical.

It is to be hoped that the bishops who meet in Texas in a couple of weeks will seek to pierce through the hopelessness of Cause and Crusade, slogans and lobbies, fears and reactions. When these bishops have something to say, it might be a good idea to hire a journalist to write the report. If they can’t say anything much, better they say nothing at all. Surely the wretched report of the New York meeting demonstrates that!