Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury Issues Invitations to Lambeth


The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued his invitation to the conference of Anglican Bishops known as Lambeth. This is a big deal--such a conference occurs only once every ten years. The full text of the invitation can be found here. The big news is who is and is not invited.

First, despite previous threats in the past that invitations to Lambeth would not be forthcoming to Bishops of the Episcopal Church unless they responded favorably to demands of the Primates on issues concerning gays and lesbians, all but one Episcopal Bishop was invited. This is an important development--it suggests that Lambeth will not be used as a tool to "discipline" the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. And this move alone might be enough to cause many of the Primates of the Global South to refuse to attend Lambeth. Indeed, they may decide to form an alternative conference to Lambeth.

Second, two Bishops are not on the invite list--Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire (because he is gay) and Bishop Minns of CANA (because of the extraterritorial installation in Virginia). Robinson, it appears, will be invited as a guest. Minns will not.

As you might expect, the blogs on the left and the right are giving opinions about what this will mean. Some are suggesting that all of the Episcopal Bishops should decline the invitation (and decline to fund Lambeth as well) if Robinson is not invited. And the Archbishop of Nigeria has stated through his Director of Communications that "the withholding of invitation to a Nigerian bishop, elected and consecrated by other Nigerian bishops will be viewed as withholding invitation to the entire House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria."

I agree with Andrew Gerns take on all this. If Robinson is invited as a guest, he and the rest of the American Bishops should attend as a symbol of grace. The real question is whether the Global South Bishops will attend:

It seems to me that the ball is now in Peter Akinola's court. All eyes are on him to see if he will make good on his threat to organize an alternative Lambeth for Global South bishops. It has been clear that his support was wavering, and while he may have won the day in Dar es Sallem, he lost the war when numerous primates expressed discomfort with the solution and supported the HOB when they rejected the hastily gathered pastoral council. Notice, as the Bishops gather in September with the Archbishop, that rejection of that hastily devised scheme did not mean the Episcopal Church was dis-invited from the Communion.

If Akinola goes to Lambeth, he will be going to a place where he and his bishops would be voices among many. He will go on Canterbury's terms.

If Akinola stays away and forms his own meeting, he frees the rest of the Communion to deal with Bishop Robinson and to take on the listening process without further delay. If he stays away he will have taken himself out of the game.

Those who would disassemble or replace the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, and those who would turn the Communion into a confessional world body, have to realize that their dream of a grand re-alignment has suffered a significant set back.

Canon Kearnon said that Williams would invite Robinson as a special guest. If that invitation should arrive, he should go without hesitation because while the path to full inclusion is still foggy and indirect, the path towards division, exclusion and punishment has been firmly and soundly rejected.



I also agree with Father Gerns (and many other others) that the Archbishop made a huge mistake. He should have invited every Bishop in the Anglican Communion to attend.
Click here for other posts on this blog about the current troubles in the Anglican Communion.

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