Suspicions confirmed, or at least corroborated (revised)

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.


  1. Mark,
    I think it is virtually certain that this is the plan and has been for some time. The "internet chatter" in certain spectra of the blogosphere has indicated as much. I think the best we can hope for is a failure to produce the 2/3 majority needed for such a plan, and the withdrawal of the GS (or some of it) from the Anglican Communion. This will require a strong stand from ++Rowan along with ++KJS and other of the Primates friendly to our cause. Any effort to enginneer a settlement at this point will be playing with language not as a means of communication, but of camouflage.

  2. aka Primates and the MEETING OF DOOM.

    Sounds like the script of a cheesy superhero flick. (sigh)

    In all seriousness, the media loves to spin everything as a make-or-break deal. It's what sells papers.

    "As for me and my house," we'll pray for the Primates and hope as you do that the worst will not come to past. But if it does, then to trust in God's grace for all concerned and help clean up the resulting mess.

  3. Fr. Tobias,

    You wrote, "This will require a strong stand from ++Rowan ...."

    I think we are in trouble here, big time. Nothing in the time since ++Nigeria began the bullying campain suggests that ++Rowan is likely to provide this.

    I suppose that means that the national council and presiding bishop will have to decide how to react to the snub. ;;sigh;;


  4. Tobias --

    I think you are quite right, but there is still the curious possibility that TEC might be kicked out of the ACC but invited to Lambeth like the non-Anglican Old Catholics & Church of Sweden (whose positions on women in ministry & gay issues are much closer to TEC than to the C of E).

    Of course any split in the WWAC would have seriousramifications for the C of E.

  5. Frankly, I don't think the "expellers" have the votes to muster the 2/3 necessary for excision from the ACC. I think even the figure of "20" given in recent reports is padded slightly to make it a simple majority. In the past these lists of 20 have usually dwindled to 17 or 18, still less than even a simple majority.

    Going to Lambeth is absolutely the last thing on my mind. I think the Lambeth Conference is the source of all our trouble, and should have been cancelled in 1878. It has produced no measurable good that I can see, from its foundation on.

  6. ++Nigeria's term as primate of Nigeria expires next year, so I imagine that he is hastening this power move due to lack of time.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.