In yesterday's General Convention recap, in addition to setting aside the issue of marriage, which I will deal with before long, I neglected to mention the whole issue of CWOB (communion without baptism).
You may recall that, in 2012, the Deputies voted to adopt a resolution that faintly praised the traditional position that baptism must precede communion, but also included some verbal wiggle room that would have been interpreted as passive permission for the practice to continue and spread. The Bishops, however, rejected the entire resolution on a resounding voice vote. But, like the Hydra of ancient Greek mythology--a serpentine creature with multiple heads, and the ability to grow two more when one was cut off--CWOB won't go away quietly.
There were multiple resolutions on the subject this time around, and some passionate testimony in support of them before the committee on which I served. In the end, we moved along (against my vote) one that called for a special task force to study the issue and report back to the 79th General Convention. On a very close vote--77 Yes and 79 No--the House of Bishops rejected the resolution, and it died on the spot. At least one bishop who voted in favor is a known opponent of the practice, but argued that the matter isn't going to just go away, so way may as well have an organized conversation. Others offered the rejoinder that we ought not to abdicate our teaching authority as bishops by submitting to the hegemony of a task force. On the following day, there was a motion to reconsider, but this time a two-thirds majority was required, and it fell far short.
We will, of course, have to face this again. And after that, probably yet again. In the midst of all the strategizing and apocalyptic drama around marriage, it has not occurred to me until now to say that, from a pure theological and ecclesiological perspective, maintaining sacramental discipline around Baptism and the Eucharist is actually more important, more fundamental. It strikes closer to the heart of Catholic order and ecclesial identity. It doesn't have the cultural pizazz that marriage does, but it's quietly huge. Were we to flip on that issue, we would have incontrovertibly surrendered any claim--already compromised by prior actions--to be a co-steward with others of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church of the creeds.
As William Shatner used to say when hawking Priceline, "This is big. Really big."