Today, in the UK Telegraph, Jonathan Petre has an article, "Drive to bar liberal from Church's crisis summit." Thinking Anglicans pointed us in that direction. It is worth reading in its entirety. Also read Daily Episcopalian's take on the article - posted this morning but not read by me until this evening.
From that article:
"Dr Rowan Williams invited Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the new head of the liberal American Church, in the hope that the warring factions might reach a compromise if they could talk face-to-face.
The primates' meeting is regarded as a last-ditch attempt to avert a formal split over homosexuality, and Dr Williams has even asked conservative American bishops to fly in to appear even-handed.
But in a humiliating blow to the Archbishop's authority, senior conservative leaders privately wrote to him last month warning that he had no right to invite Bishop Schori to the summit without their consent."
It has been noted by various folk on list serves that I frequent that Petre's read on the invitation is in line with a very pessimistic read of the Archbishop's letter to the Primates about the upcoming meeting, in which he said,
"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."
Petre reads the invitation as linked to the "hope that the warring factions might reach a compromise." It has however been pointed out that this is a meeting of the Primates and that she should be there as the Primate of this Church anyway, period.
The idea that this Primates meeting is "a last-ditch attempt" echoes unfortunately the phrase now being used by some US military about the so called "surge" in American forces in Iraq. "Last ditches" are bad places to die in. John Kerry asked the Senate in the midst of the Viet Nam War, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" That question haunts the US today. The last ditch attempt to "avert a formal split" in the Anglican Communion is by comparison a small thing, but the ditch is still there. As Petre tells it, the Presiding Bishop, a Primate in the Anglican Communion by any standards equal to all the other Primates, is being considered a pawn in a last ditch effort to some other end. Invitation is not withheld, she is invited in the hopes that warring factions might reach a compromise. She is not invited as a member of the club.
Petre references a letter from "senior conservative leaders" who " privately wrote to him (The Archbishop of Canterbury) last month warning that he had no right to invite Bishop Schori to the summit without their consent." What letter is that? One presumes it is a letter from the combo of the Global South Steering Committee and the US Realignment Groups. Petre references this ecclesiastical lump later noting, "The group, who make up more than 20 of the 38 primates, will finalise their strategy before the summit starts on February 15. They will present a blueprint for a "parallel" Church to accommodate a range of conservatives in America, but this is unlikely to be acceptable to the American Episcopal Church." Again I presume this is a reference to the strategy meeting in Nairobi.
Interesting too is the comment that the writers of the letter to the Archbishop also question the inclusion of the Archbishop of York in the meeting. Why exactly is his inclusion considered a bad idea? Well, first there is the matter of trust. It appears that the Archbishop is not Global South enough for some of the members of this assembly. But then there is the matter of voting. If the Archbishop of York votes, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Chair, it may make it that much harder to get a majority vote to do any of the things hoped for by the GS Steering Committee, et al.
In previous posts I have indicated my suspicions that (i) there are strategies being forged to grab the control of the Primates Meeting away from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and (ii) to use this Primates Meeting as the occasion to put up an alternative Province in the US. Jonathan Petre's essay certainly corroborates these suspicions. I still hope we are wrong.