Saturday, December 23, 2006

ABC Will Invite PB to Primates' Meeting

There's a letter being circulated from Abp. Rowan Williams to the Primates. Jim Naughton has confirmed its authenticity and has posted it on the Daily Episcopalian. Here is the part that is especially worth noting:

...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...
Those Primates who have vowed not to sit with Bp. Katharine now have a decision to make. Their voracious pronuncements are probably the reason we find the unusual wording above; "...I have decided not to withhold an invitation...," which implies that Dr. Williams considered witholding the invitation as an option. That such ultimatums, lacking any semblance of grace, could become serious factors in this deliberation is quite troubling.

Inviting two or three "contributers" for a session is going to make an already potentially volatile situation even more so, in my opinion. One must assume Bp. Duncan will be one those invited. His presence will further the fiction that the Network is anything more than just another parachurch organization similar to the Brotherhood of St. Andrew or Cursillo.

At the last Primates' Meeting in Dromantine, this fraternal association prowled the perimeter, making as much mischief as possible from the outside. They are now being rewarded for their most unseemly behavior by being invited inside to participate in a "session." No doubt they will once again orchestrate further theatrics among the Primates. I cannot see anything constructive resulting from the intrusion of these "contributers."

If Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori accepts this invitation, she will most likely encounter some rude and possibly even abusive behavior from some of her peers. I have little doubt that she will be a person of grace in all circumstances, and will give evidence for the belief that many of are coming to hold; that God has chosen the right person to represent the Episcopal Church at this time in our common life.

Keep our Presiding Bishop, and the Church, in your prayers.


UPDATE: Tobias offers some thoughts on this; Unity by Division.

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