Saturday, December 23, 2006

Archbishop Williams: ++Jefferts Schori Will be Invited to Primates Meeting

An item was posted yesterday on a website of questionable veracity but indisputable venom, claiming that Archbishop Rowan Williams has decided he will invite our Presiding Bishop to the Primates meeting in Tanzania in February. Not surprisingly (given the source), there were many who questioned the factual basis of the report. But the indisputably reliable Jim Naughton (of the Daily Episcopalian) has confirmed the authenticity of the letter, dated December 18 and addressed to The Most Revd Dr Phillip J Aspinall, Primate of Australia & Archbishop of Brisbane.

Archbishop Williams writes in part:

As Christmas approaches, preparations continue to be made for the Primates’ Meeting in February in Tanzania. A provisional outline of the programme is almost ready – but I am particularly glad that we shall have opportunity to celebrate in the cathedral in Zanzibar the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 1806, another great sign of God’s faithfulness and of what can be achieved by Christ’s disciples when they resist the powers of this world.

This meeting will be, of course, an important and difficult and important encounter, with several moments of discernment and decision to be faced, and a good deal of work to be done on our hopes for the Lambeth Conference, and on the nature and shape of the Covenant that we hope will assist us in strengthening our unity as a Communion.

There are two points I wish to touch on briefly. The first is a reminder of what our current position actually is in relation to the Episcopal Church. This Province has agreed to withdraw its representation from certain bodies in the Communion until Lambeth 08; and the Joint Standing Committee has appointed a sub-group which has been working on a report to develop our thinking as to how we should as a meeting interpret the Episcopal Church’s response so far to the Windsor recommendations. In other words, questions remain to be considered about the Episcopal Church’s relations with other Provinces (though some Provinces have already made their position clear). I do not think it wise or just to take any action that will appear to bring that consideration and the whole process of our shared discernment to a premature end.

This is why I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting. I believe it is important that she be given a chance both to hear and to speak and to discuss face to face the problems we are confronting together. We are far too prone to talk about these matters from a distance, without ever having to face the human reality of those from whom we differ. However, given the acute dissension in the Episcopal Church at this point, and the very widespread effects of this in the Communion, I am also proposing to invite two or three other contributors from that Province for a session to take place before the rest of our formal business, in which the situation may be reviewed, and I am currently consulting as to how this is best organised.

The Episcopal Church is not in any way a monochrome body and we need to be aware of the full range of conviction within it. I am sure that other Primates, like myself, will welcome the clear declarations by several bishops and diocesan conventions (including those dioceses represented at the Camp Allen meeting earlier this year) of their unequivocal support for the process and recommendations of the Windsor Report. There is much to build upon here. There are many in TEC who are deeply concerned as to how they should secure their relationships with the rest of the Communion; I hope we can listen patiently to these anxieties.

My second point is to underline the importance of planning constructively for Lambeth 08. If we become entirely paralysed by our continuing struggles to resolve the challenges posed by decisions in North America, we shall lose a major opportunity for strengthening our common life. . . .

Visit the Daily Episcopalian to read the entire letter.

Also see Father Jake's comments, including this observation: "Those Primates who have vowed not to sit with Bp. Katharine now have a decision to make."

At In a Godward Direction: Unity By Division, Tobias Haller offers his typically thoughtful analysis.

At Preludium, Mark Harris asks, "What in the world is going on here?"


Anonymous Dennis said...

Not sure what to think of this. I no longer trust Archbishop WishyWashy, I think he is in with his Nigerian friends and they are trying to pull something here.
Perhaps it is time for us to start encouraging the fast moving calls within England for disestablishment - if ++WishyWashy is busy worrying about his stream of income and how he looks to the English public he will be less likely to get close to Nigerians who want to imprison people for their sexual orientation.
We need to start looking hard and fast for ways to reach out to progressives in the UK and make common cause with them, too. ++WishyWashy has had a free hand to play footsie with the Nigerians and the rest of the radicals because he hasn't felt enough pressure at home. Lets see if from across the pond we can help him refocus his attention away from providing aid and comfort to those who would throw us out of the Anglican communion.

12/24/2006 1:13 PM  

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