Here are some interesting ideas for discussion:
I have asked at least 6 Bishops if they plan to release the vote count of what they propose. All have said, they did not know and have not decided that yet. I think it is very important that we know the vote count. If whatever comes forward is a 33-31 vote (out of 64 Bishops), that is a very thin margin to try and pass something at General Conference. If it is 38-26, you have a 60%/40% split, a strong majority. If it is 43+ to 21- then it is 2 to 1 or better and you start to get into a clear consensus.
A clear consensus or at least a strong majority will be a powerful voice at General Conference. I have heard from several Bishops that they aspire to consensus, but it is very hard. Agreed. Finding consensus at General Conference will be even harder if we are not sure where the Bishops stand.
I have asked the same 6 Bishops if they plan to release how each Bishop votes. They have all said emphatically, No! We do not do that, especially on controversial issues. I wonder about that. Who is being protected here? From a transparency perspective, why would they not stand up individually and say, this is how I voted and why? And, if they stand in the minority, will they support the majority position?
As a former elected official, every vote I took was public, controversial or not. And, I had to stand on my record for re-election…which, as you may have heard, did not go well! One could make an argument that the Bishops are elected officials…and all the US Bishops are in office for life. Why is it a violation of “covenant” to say, “Here I stand?” And if some Bishops reveal their votes and some do not, then we have redaction politics to figure out who is who. This seems unnecessary.
The Bishops are planning on a “listening tour” of sorts this Fall in each of their conferences. Are they going to lead these conversations and just present both sides without revealing their view? And, why ask lay and clergy what they think if the Bishop will not reciprocate? It seems odd. Particularly if the plan they propose is to agree to disagree, they could model that.
Will the Bishops advocate for their position? Will the Council of Bishops hire a team to go out and promote their position or will it simply be presented and the Bishops step back? I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, if they like their plan they should sell it. On the other hand, once they submit the petition, it becomes the property of the delegates of the General Conference. The vote count will say more than any publicity.
What do you think? Should we know the vote count? What about who voted how? I think this is an interesting topic.