5/22/2007

Invitations Out . The ABC blew it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent out the invitations to Lambeth 2008. Invitations went to over 800 bishops. It appears they went out to all the bishops. Read the letter and press release HERE.

But wait... here is a news report that says that Bishops Robinson and Minns are not invited, Robinson might come as a guest, Minns not.

" Two bishops at the heart of the U.S. Episcopal Church's divisions over sexuality and scripture will not be invited to next year's global gathering of Anglican prelates, the archbishop of Canterbury's office said Tuesday.

Bishops V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and Martyn Minns of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America were not among more than 850 bishops invited, said Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion."

"Robinson may be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference as a guest, but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is not contemplating inviting Minns, Kearon said."



The Archbishop could have taken good advice, and while I am sure he didn't consult PRELUDIUM it is the advice that has come from here as well - the advice to invite everybody and if someone can't or won't attend, that is their problem. But it appears that at least two are not going to be invited. The Archbishop's letter held this possibility out and it seems to have been taken:

" At this point, and with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion. Indeed there are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice. I do not say this lightly, but I believe that we need to know as we meet that each participant recognises and honours the task set before us and that there is an adequate level of mutual trust between us about this. Such trust is a great deal harder to sustain if there are some involved who are generally seen as fundamentally compromising the efforts towards a credible and cohesive resolution."


Let us hope that the Archbishop thinks better of it all and on further advice allows the chips to fall where they may. The sacrifice of the one in this case will not be for the good of the many. However this thing cuts the end result will be some who will stay away. The Archbishop might have done a good thing: invite and have done with it. It appears he has waffled once again to the cost of hospitality and good order both.

Not inviting is shunning, pure and simple.

Other interesting things stand out in the Archbishop's letter:

"The Conference is a place where our experience of living out God’s mission can be shared. It is a place where we may be renewed for effective ministry. And it is a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world. It is an occasion when the Archbishop of Canterbury exercises his privilege of calling his colleagues together, not to legislate but to discover and define something more about our common identity through prayer, listening to God’s Word and shared reflection. It is an occasion to rediscover the reality of the Church itself as a worldwide community united by the call and grace of Christ.

But the Lambeth Conference has no ‘constitution’ or formal powers; it is not a formal Synod or Council of the bishops of the Communion, which would require us to be absolutely clear about the standing of all the participants. An invitation to participate in the Conference has not in the past been a certificate of doctrinal orthodoxy. Coming to the Lambeth Conference does not commit you to accepting the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.

At a time when our common identity seems less clear that it once did, the temptation is to move further away from each other into those circles where we only related to those who completely agree with us. But the depth and seriousness of the issues that face us require us to discuss as fully and freely as we can, and no other forum offers the same opportunities for all to hear and consider, in the context of a common waiting on the Holy Spirit.

I have said, and repeat here, that coming to the Conference does not commit you to accepting every position held by other bishops as equally legitimate or true. But I hope it does commit us all to striving together for a more effective and coherent worldwide body, working for God’s glory and Christ’s Kingdom. The Instruments of Communion have offered for this purpose a set of resources and processes, focused on the Windsor Report and the Covenant proposals. My hope is that as we gather we can trust that your acceptance of the invitation carries a willingness to work with these tools to shape our future. I urge you all most strongly to strive during the intervening period to strengthen confidence and understanding between our provinces and not to undermine it."

So the Lambeth Conference is not signal of orthodoxy, it is not a Synod. On the other hand the Windsor Report and the Covenant proposals are highlighted as the 'focus' of discussion. The Windsor Report and its assumption of the doctrinal validity of Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 has become the sacred stone that will be a millstone around the neck of the Communion. The Covenant Proposals (note the plural) will, it would appear, include more than the Draft Covenant Proposal.

So there is darkness and light both: The Windsor Report, which was after all the report of a committee, has become an idol, and like all idols a bottomless pit of confusion for those seeking the Truth. The Covenant conversation is still early enough in formation to be turned from the punitive and curial mix of the draft.

But first, invite or don't but don't hold bishops hostage to the displeasure of other bishops. The Archbishop needs to reconsider both rejections. Robinson is a Bishop in The Episcopal Church and Minns a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. Some may not like the fact that Bishop Robinson is bishop of New Hampshire and some may think Bishop Minns does not have a legitamate appointment, but this is part of our peculiar time. Either invite them both or not. But not to invite them invites a worse madness.

26 comments:

  1. Minns and Robinson didn't get invites, according to AP this morning.

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  2. If toujoursdan is right, that makes for an interesting balance. One person from each side of the fence that others criticize as being divisive figures. Though I still wish the Archbishop would have allowed Robinson there for some true discourse...

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  3. Deacon Charlie Perrin22/5/07 9:35 AM

    Hmmm, is not being invited the same as ex-communication? After all isn't the primary definition of "membership" in the AC being "in communion" with the See of Canterbury? And if one is not invited to the party how can one then be in communion? Further more does this mean that those who are in the Diocese of New Hampshire or CANA are also ex-communicated?

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  4. But Mark using that logic, shouldn't the AMiA bishops also be invited since they are bishops of Rwanda?

    And what about the deposed bishop of Recife now under the protection of Abp. Venerables?

    How about Mugabe's buddy, the Bishop of Harare?

    I understand the idea of inviting all bishops, but where does one draw the line?

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  5. Well, that was a blunder, and very rude, and very unchristian behavior!

    It's becoming easier and easier to toss gay christians to the lions. First Jeffrey Johns, and now Gene Robinson.

    The word 'inquisition' keeps running through my mind.

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  6. With this move, the ABC has just aided and abetted schism.

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  7. Complete incoherence from Williams. I'll make the connection to which you alluded: if the Lambeth Conference, of all things, isn't an official synod of the Communion, Lambeth 1.10 is meaningless.

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  8. Meanwhile, a rather pessimistic pronouncement from +Duncan is included in a report up this a.m. on the Dio PGH website: http://www.pgh.anglican.org/news/local/leadershipretreat052207 Guess they're waiting for the lawyers to tell them whether defection as a diocese or parish-by-parish stands the best chance.

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  9. I'm struck by his hesitancy to invite "bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal ...." So does Bishop Kunonga not present a scandal? If we're going to start judging manner of life and behaviors, then we'd better have an Archbishop who has the wisdom of Solomon and God's own level of knowledge.

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  10. Great commentary, Mark. If indeed one of the main purposes of Lambeth is to pray together, this is slap in the face of Gene, The Episcopal Church and to Christ.

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  11. Akinola's response to this "snub" is on Thinking Anglicans

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  12. This is outrageous but somewhat expected. The only question is: will the House of Bishops have the integrity to stand in solidarity with Bishop Robinson by refusing to attend?

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  13. I'll be interested to hear whether or not +David Bena received an invitation...

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  14. I can't help but ask the same quesion over and over, and that is, who's advising the ABC? I am also struck the ABC doesn't pay attention to his own words. Isn't it odd that certain bishops, who have crossed boundaries, should be invited to Tea, along with those US bishops who have left the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church or who have altered diocesan canons?

    Just a thought, but wouldn't it be great if Tony Blair could take his appointment with him when he retires in June?

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  15. I would hope that the Episcopal Church's Executive Council would issue some statement rejecting the Archbishop of Canterbury's refusal to invite Bishop Robinson. He is, like his peers, a duly and appropriately elected bishop of the Episcopal Church.

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  16. Check out Akinola's statement:

    http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/3054/

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  17. Inviting Bishop Minns would look to me to be encouraging anarchy. Is having the discipline to penalize border crossers really worse than anarchy?

    Jon

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  18. Mark, I am with you. Invite them all or don't invite any. This isn't a graduation party.

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  19. And all this during the week after John 17 was the Gospel reading.. "That we all may be one" seems to ring a bit tinny in the AC.

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  20. "At this point, and with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion"...+++Rowan

    Surely he's speaking of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria? Has there ever been a Anglican Archbishop other than Akinola who has caused such "serious division" and "scandal" and downright harm to fellow Anglicans and fellow human beings?

    Leonardo Ricardo

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  21. David, who is bereft of a witty screen name -

    As I understand it, only bishops with jurisdiction are invited, ordinary & coadjutor, not retired or suffragan.

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  22. I would prefer Dr Williams to cancel the Lambeth Conference entirely, as an event likely to do more harm than good

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  23. Richard W.22/5/07 8:58 PM

    Very un-christian of the ABC and bad manners to boot from someone who was reared in a country where good manners are supposed to go along with good breeding and I assume he was the recipient of such an upbringing - what a spineless git.

    Richard, it's time for Bob Pittsburgh to renounce his orders and leave.

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  24. I am increasingly appalled by the Archbishop of Canterbury's actions. I can only feel at this point that his most recent cave to those who would hold us all hostage to quest for power within the communion (Akinola, et. al.) is at the very least deeply sad/tragic, and at the most highly dysfunctional in its reinforcement of institutional bigotry.

    We found out about this action at Provincial Synod yesterday. There were immediate calls, which we all echoed, for our bishops to boycott the conference in support of Bishop Robinson. I had a scary thought on the drive home though....If the argument is that TEC has left and the faithful remain (CANA, ACN), would action such as boycotting Lambeth (one of the 4 instruments of unity) reinforce that conservative argument that we have in fact left, perhaps in a court of law where property is at stake?

    Our bishops will have to be very intentional about their response to all of this. I pray that they will will find a way to support Bishop Robinson and stand with him in the midst of this sad and unethical exclusion.

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  25. Frank - "inquisition" is over the top and does a severe injustice to the saints who were victims of the Italian and Spanish inquisitions - noone's life is being threatened here even though there is a great deal of heresy

    Phil - the authority of Lambeth Res 1:10 does not come from the Lambeth conference but rests on Biblical truth - a higher authority than any church council, conference or synod.

    Rick - it is a bit of a stretch to put Gene, ECUSA and Christ in the same phrase, and does not glorify Christ in doing so.

    Anonymous - I'm in agreement with you - it would be good to see ECUSA's HoB stand in solidarity with Robinson and refuse to attend, but I doubt that they will.

    and Leonardo - yes isn't it shocking that ABp Akinola actually believes the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ - the sword of the Spirit which causes division, and the cross of Christ which is a scandal to the world, but is actually the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.

    Brian F

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  26. It will be more telling if in the next round invitations are sent out to regular missionary bishops to come as guests, but CANA and AMiA bishops are not invited.

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