Friday, August 24, 2007

Are the Windsor Bishops Attempting to Dictate Terms to Canterbury?

Seventeen so-called "Windsor" bishops met at Camp Allen earlier this month. They consisted of about seven Network bishops and ten other bishops who are conservative, but not necessarily schismatics. No statement was made at the conclusion of this meeting. The only information we were given was a brief report from The Living Church. Here's how that report begins:

Bishops who have made a public commitment to support the Windsor Report have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to be clear and articulate in explaining what the consequences will be if the House of Bishops fails to give the assurances sought by the primates...
How this message was communicated to Dr. Williams, and its specific content, was not made public.

However, Mark Harris was sent a draft of a letter to Dr. Williams that was found on a public computer at Camp Allen. There is no way of knowing to what degree this draft letter represents the final copy, or if a letter was even sent to Dr. Williams by the Windsor Bishops. The draft is of interest just the same, as it offers us some insight into what at least someone at Camp Allen had in mind:

Dear Archbishop Rowan:

We, the "Windsor Bishops," meeting at Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, 8-10 August, 2007, express our gratitude for your agreement to meet with out (our?) House of Bishops next month in New Orleans, and for sending Canon Gregory Cameron to be with us during these days.

As you prepare for your time with us, we ask you to consider addressing the following points:

  • Clarity is of the essence;
  • The Communion is in acute crisis because the American Church is at the center;
  • A deadline is a deadline. A response from you within two weeks of 30 September would be important. No response is a response. If the deadline is ignored it could be catastrophic.
  • (My advisors inform me that) Bishop(s?) in The Episcopal Church have full authority over liturgical practices in their diocese and the power to grant or withhold consent in Episcopal elections, without the approval of General Convention. (This seems to be advising the ABC to say his advisors inform him that….)
  • The sending of Lambeth invitations was a good faith expression of my desire, and that of the Communion, for The Episcopal Church to remain part of the Anglican World. I will be saddened to withdraw invitations.
  • For me to defend the unity of the Communion it is vital that clear answers be given to the three key matters expressed in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué. (Again, these are words being suggested to the ABC for his use.)

    The See of Canterbury is one of the four instruments of unity and the opportunities for exercising moral authority is profound. We encourage and support you as you use this God given authority in maintaining the unity of the Communion.
  • Did you notice what is going on here? Some bishop or a group of bishops are telling the Archbishop of Canterbury what they want him to say, word for word. The audacity of such a move is absolutely astounding.

    If such a letter was sent to Canterbury, I would imagine that it will not be well received. I doubt very much that Dr. Williams will appreciate a group of Americans assuming they have the authority to compose his public statements for him. Rowan Williams is not Peter Akinola, after all.


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