Sunday, July 22, 2007

Archbishop of York to Global South: Come to Lambeth

Dr John Sentamu, an African Anglican now serving in the Church of England as the Archbishop of York warned conservative Anglicans that they are endangering their ties to the Anglican Communion if they boycott Lambeth 2008.

Here is the report from the Daily Telegraph :

The Archbishop of York has warned conservative Anglican leaders that they will effectively expel themselves from the worldwide Church if they boycott next year's Lambeth Conference.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr John Sentamu pleaded with them to attend the conference despite their war with liberals over homosexuality.

But he told them that if they "voted with their feet" they risked severing their links with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with historic Anglicanism, a breach that could take centuries to heal.

"Anglicanism has its roots through Canterbury," he said. "If you sever that link you are severing yourself from the Communion. There is no doubt about it."

The archbishop's outspoken comments will dismay conservatives, who blame the liberals for bringing the Church to the brink of schism by consecrating Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop in 2003.

A handful of archbishops and hundreds of bishops from Africa and Asia, representing well over a third of the 70 million strong worldwide Church, are threatening to boycott the Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly gathering of all Anglican bishops in Canterbury. They are angry that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has invited liberal American bishops.

. . .

Dr Sentamu, a close ally of Dr Williams, said that as long as Anglican bishops did not deny the basic Christian doctrines they should all be able to remain within the same Church.

While liberal north Americans disagreed with conservatives over sexual ethics, these were not core issues, he said.

If the conservatives boycotted Lambeth "they would be the ones voting with their feet and saying, as far as we are concerned, we are the true Anglicans".

He added: "Whenever we break there is a lot of pain and the healing of it is very difficult. I want to warn people, don't spend the next century trying to find a way back."

But he also warned the American bishops that Dr Williams reserved the right to withdraw their invitations if they were not prepared to engage in the decision-making processes of the Communion in the future.

Read it all here.

The Archbishop us close to Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. His words are well worth reading with care. Indeed, he may well be who the Episcopal church has in mind as we formulate our response to the Communique. the two most important points made here are (1) the Archbishop does not believe that issues of sexuality are "core doctrine" that define who is a proper Anglican, but also (2) the Archbishop of Canterbury may withdraw invitations to Lambeth of the Episcopal Bishop if the Bishops do not show some willingness to engage meaningfully with the other Anglican provinces on these issues.

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