Note to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Not of course assuming that he or anyone else around him reads Preludium.):
I am not surprised that five suffragan bishops, so called "flying bishops" have left the Church of England for Rome. The whole thing about flying bishops ended up being a holding pen for people who didn't understand the CofE "yes" to the ordination of women to be precisely that, "yes." So a way was devised to disguise the "yes" so that it didn't seem to mean it. Well the Pope and the General Synod and the women's movement in the church, and almost everyone else got it: The Church of England does ordain women and that's that, and it will ordain women as bishops in the near future. All the stumbling around to find a "safe place" for people who really needed to deny this reality just didn't work. So the five have left, and one assumes a number of priests will do so as well. There it is.
Might it have been better simply to let the CofE answer to the question, "shall we ordain women in this Church?" be a simple, "Yes." Flying bishops, nice comments about safe places, etc, didn't seem to help much at all. It was a side trip.
And, now the news comes that the Archbishop Earnest and a small group of primates will be meeting with you prior to the Primates Meeting in 2011. If there are primates that in good conscience can not or will not sit in the same circle or room or meeting with The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church or others, then let you might do well to address the question in the open - will you invite the heads of all the current member churches of the Anglican Communion to this meeting of the Primates, yes or no. If the answer is yes and some wish to stay away, then they will say no. If the answer is no, then some Primates will be refused invitation and others will decide for themselves if they will attend. But at least then every one's answer is clear: yes or no.
Having closed sessions with this or that "party" will only inflame party spirit, muck up the possibility of saying "yes" or "no" in clear and perhaps cleansing ways, and generally add to the notion that bargains are being forged in closed door sessions in which the accusers do not have to address the accused, or deal with the possibilities of relationships beyond right and wrong.
It could be that this is a meeting with people who you know have declined to attend if the Presiding Bishop attends. In which case you are working through a most difficult situation. If you can convince them to change their minds, fine. But if that convincing involves planning out the program of the meeting so that it becomes an occasion to expel the Presiding Bishop and others, or other "political" bargains then we will have once again the Star Chamber in operation. This will be an occasion for deep gloom.
The closed meeting with a small group of primates is a really bad idea. If they are so convinced that they should not attend, then so be it.
I find little of redeeming value in in either the news of flying bishops who have flown to Rome or the news that more secret meetings are being planned. Actually, they are in their own way both news of death, not life.
It would be more redemptive if you were to say, "Well, I am sorry they have gone, but those who remain have work to do." There is life in that. There is much to be done.
Let "yes" be "yes" and "no" "no."
And when they ask, "Do you pray for the Archbishop?" I answer, "Yes."