Lessons in Incompetence, Apathy, or Malice: The Case of the Missing San Diego RCRC Resolution
Today is The Feast of the Holy Innocents, the commemoration of King Herod’s self-serving, jealous lust for the death of young children out of fear of the loss of his throne and its power. The spirit of Satan entered his heart and he ordered the death of all young children in the region of Jesus’s birth.
It’s therefore fitting that we post yet another article about the great evil of abortion, as well as the great evil of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council joining the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice—a monstrous organization that revels and delights in the joys of killing the innocents. The Episcopal Church is the only church that has joined, by action of its Executive Council, the RCRC, though there are organizations of other churches that have joined as sub-organizations.
If you are giving unrestricted funds to your parish, and your diocese gives money to the national church, you are supporting the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Kudos go out to Jill Woodliff for doing the research on this article, which points out that either the San Diego diocese failed in its duty to forward the passed RCRC disassociation resolution to the 2009 General Convention, or the 2009 General Convention failed to receive it and address it. Either way, it is yet another example of what Baby Blue explicates in her post on the Hammerstein Hierarchy of Human Behavior—human behavior is often guided by some combination of laziness, stupidity, or evil. In the case of this resolution, I know what I believe—you can come to your own conclusions.
The Case of the Missing San Diego RCRC Disassociation Resolution
By Jill Woodliff
At the 2008 San Diego diocesan convention, Anne Coletta and others submitted a resolution dissociating the diocese from the actions of the Executive Council to join the Episcopal Church to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. She presented the proposed resolution in a workshop at the diocesan convention. Several parishes had recently dissociated from the diocese, and a member of the audience raised the objection that the word ‘dissociate’ was politically charged. Also, the Executive Council making a decision for TEC as a whole was viewed as an issue in procedure, and a matter to be addressed by the General Convention. Attending the presentation was Fr. Andrew Green. After the workshop, he asked her to change the resolution.
Anne was well aware, from past experience, that any pro-life resolution sent to General Convention was certain to be killed. She knew that any successful action would have to be taken at the diocesan level, but she reluctantly agreed to let the resolution be rewritten. Fr. Green was instrumental in writing language that all could agree to.
Before the vote, both Fr. Green and Bishop James Mathes asked her if she was happy with the substitute. She replied no, but getting something on the record was better than nothing at all.
It was Anne’s impression that Bishop Mathes wanted the resolution to be passed, in a form acceptable to him. This diocesan convention also passed a resolution urging the Bishop to form a task force to study holiness in relationships and blessings in Churches of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. The bishop could point to Anne’s resolution, in counterbalance to the same sex relationship resolution, and claim to be centrist.
The substitute resolution was passed by convention and is recorded on the diocesan website:
Title: Resolution Regarding The Episcopal Church and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Proposed By: St. Michaelâ€™s by-the-Sea Vestry
Whereas the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church by official action on January 12, 2006, formally affirmed the affiliation of the Episcopal Church in the United States with the â€œReligious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,â€ formerly known as the â€œReligious Coalition for Abortion Rights,â€ which is an organization which actively promotes abortion on demand for any reason for all nine months of pregnancy and
Whereas we believe the goals and principles of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) as stated on their Website conflict with biblical theology related to the sanctity of human life, and
Whereas the 75th General Convention of 2006 was denied the opportunity to make any vote concerning the continued membership of The Episcopal Church in the RCRC
Therefore be it Resolved that the 2008 Convention of the Diocese of San Diego (34th Annual Diocesan Convention) request that the 76th General Convention meeting in Anaheim, California, end the officially sanctioned affiliation of the Episcopal Church with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
EXPLANATION OF RESOLUTION:
The Episcopal Church has a clear position on abortion articulated in General Convention resolutions in 1988, 1994, and 1997. However the decision to officially sanction affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was made by the Executive Council. The Episcopal Church is the only denomination so affiliated. This resolution would allow the General Convention in 2009 to study, discuss, debate, and decide if our affiliation is appropriate.
As it turned out, this was to be the only resolution regarding the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice destined for General Convention 2009. Fr. Green and Bishop Mathes both represented the Diocese of San Diego at GC2009.
May 2009 Georgette Forney called the Diocese of San Diego regarding the resolution. No one knew anything about it.
August 2009 Anne Coletta started making inquiries in the Diocese of San Diego. On August 25, Anne was told by the bishop’s assistant, Bobbi Hoff, that the resolution had been forwarded to the General Convention office.
October 5, 2009 I [Jill Woodliff] left a message on Bishop Mathes’s machine, asking about the outcome of the legislation. Hannah Miller, the communications director, returned my call. She asked where I was from, and I told her that I was an Episcopal priest’s wife from Mississippi and that I was pro-life. She told me that the San Diego Resolution had been folded into D063, which had not passed. She volunteered that B026 pertained to the abortion issue as well. She instructed me how to find the legislation online. I thanked her for so promptly returning my call.
After I hung up, I looked up the resolutions. D063 had to do with the flu pandemic. B026 commended the reforming dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Ft Worth, and Quincy.
I called back and left a polite message for her to call me again. As the resolutions had nothing to do with the subject, I simply wanted to confirm that I had written the numbers down correctly. She did not return my call.
Two days later, I called her again. This time, she referred me to an article that described what happened to the pro-life resolutions. The article regarded GC2006, rather than GC2009. I sent her an e-mail pointing this out, and she did not respond.
Mid-October 2009 I was told by Maribeth Kobza Betton of the Archives of the Episcopal Church that the resolution could not be located after a thorough examination of the 87 resolutions submitted by dioceses to the 2009 General Convention.
Thinking that my ignorance of the legislative process might be the problem, I asked my diocesan office for assistance. The Canon to the Ordinary, Rev. David Johnson contacted the legislative officer of the General Convention office, who could not find any resolutions dealing with the subject.
November 2009 My bishop, Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray, inquired of Bishop James Mathes of San Diego. While on the phone, the Bishop Mathes went back through the journal of his 2008 convention until he found the resolution. He remembered it when he saw it and said he thought that it “probably passed.” However, he could not be sure because nowhere in the journal was there any notation as to whether it did pass or fail. Bishop Mathes’s best guess was that somewhere in the process, the resolution, if it had been passed, was not noted in a formal way and, thus, not forwarded, as it should have been, to General Convention.
In corporate behavior, many factors (e.g. incompetence, malice, and apathy) can be involved. I leave judgment to our Lord. Friend or foe, I bless all parties to this sorry saga. On a recent retreat, I wrote this after an extended session of healing prayer:
Jeremiah 31:11-12 (NLT)
For the Lord has redeemed Israel
from those too strong for them.
They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem.
They will be radiant because of the Lordâ€™s good giftsâ€”
the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil,
and the healthy flocks and herds.
Their life will be like a watered garden,
and all their sorrows will be gone.
My joy is in You, Father. From my mustard seed of faith, O kingdom of heaven, take root in my spirit. O river of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb, water my seed of faith. O tree of life, grow.
My joy is in You, Jesus, and my times are in Your hands. Like Zaccheus climbing the sycamore tree to get a clearer view of You, I climb out of my circumstances to look into Your face. I rest on that well-watered tree of life and eat its ripe fruit, a different fruit in each season. I lean over and drink of the water of life. I brush against the leaves and am healed, a different healing from each leaf.
My joy is in You, Holy Spirit, and I come to Your kingdom. Like the birds of the air lodging in a great mustard tree, I sing.
Psalm 1:3, Matthew 13:31-32, Revelation 22:1-2
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