On this its final day, the General Convention has overwhelmingly approved a last-minute resolution, B033, asking for a kinda-sorta moratorium on gay bishops. Some liberals are furious about this. (So are some traditionalists, who correctly point out that the resolution doesn't ask for a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions as requested by the Windsor Report, in effect leaving local option as the Episcopal Church's standard practice.) My own initial reaction was likewise one of severe disappointment, because on the merits of this issue, I'm very much with the liberals.
But on reflection, I'm not entirely unhappy with resolution B033, and in fact I think it might have been a very smart move. Here's why:
1. The requested moratorium is expressly predicated on the Anglican Communion's engaging in a "process of healing and reconciliation."
2. My guess is that the radical traditionalists won't make even a good-faith effort at healing and reconciliation; for most of them, nothing short of unconditional surrender by the liberals will suffice. I agree with Father Jake when he says that B033 "will not be enough for Anglican bigots like Peter Akinola. TEC is going to continue to be treated like a naughty child who must be disciplined."
3. So, fast-forward to three months from now. A standing committee has to decide whether to consent to the (hypothetical) election of a bishop who happens to be a partnered lesbian. The standing committee is inclined to consent to the election, but it also feels compelled to honor the General Convention's request in B033. In this situation, the standing committee has a duty to assess for itself whether a genuine process of healing and reconciliation is underway in the Anglican Communion. If not, then for purposes of the standing committee's decision, B033's predicate hasn't been satisfied, and the committee is free to give its consent.
That gives ++Frank Griswold and +Katharine Jefferts Schori some cards to play: They can ring up the Archbishop of Canterbury this afternoon and say, "OK, Rowan, it's your move — what's it gonna be?"
All in all, that's not a terrible position for the U.S. church's leadership to be in.