On the international scene, we remember that it was only a few weeks ago that the Rt. Rev. Tom Wright, was telling everyone that a "get tough" letter was coming from Lambeth Palace to the TEC bishops who didn’t support the Covenant and were part of the group who consecrated Gene Robinson. Many of us wondered whether Tom Wright was going to be "wrong again" or whether, given his close contact with Lambeth, maybe he was onto something - or then again, maybe he was being used. The long-awaited Lambeth Letter has come out, and it is a "cream puff" of a letter. What went wrong? Why did Wright get it wrong?
Bishop Tom may have gotten it right to start with, but when a large number of liberal revisionist English bishops told Rowan Williams that if he excluded those Americans, they wouldn’t come either, it appears that the Primate of Primates caved in and changed the letter. Tom Wright was left with the ground cut out from under him. Wright could have gotten it right if the left hadn’t muscled in. Apparently, the revisionist English bishops are less afraid of pushing back than their orthodox colleagues; why is that?
This raises a number of questions. First of all, is this accurate? Assuming there is a bishops' grapevine, to be true this means that the more liberal bishops here collectively or individually in the UK put out a threat, and I live in a diocese with one of them and indeed we all of know many of these bishops and where they are stationed. Well it could be true because the reasoning I received was on the grounds that Lambeth was to tackle difference of opinion: that the purpose of the Advent Letter was to get as many people there as possible.
My argument was that the Advent Letter made it impossible for liberals to go there, or people against the Covenant, on the basis that the agenda was Covenant only, on the principle of the expectations of one Church on another for the purposes of geographical monopoly on a most literalist of readings of the Bible. How could liberals go to that? Well, because it was a show, an appearance, an argument to bring in the literalists who would boycott Lambeth otherwise. I did not quite believe it; I rather take people and what they write at face value.
So we are led to believe that letters to examine consciences would have gone out, and ask such agenda-dissatisfied bishops whether they should be there, but that they did not go out because of a threat from liberal bishops in England, and thus the plan was changed: that the letters did not go out, and phone calls happened instead asking participants to uphold the integrity of the agenda. The spokesperson to the Church of England Newspaper called this a change of plan. Was it a change? I'd rather skipped that investigative point on the basis of wondering whether Rowan Williams was ever obliged to actually write letters that disinvited, as Fulcrum had been claiming over a long period.
Indeed we are told that of the bishops who can come, beyond the long-known boycotters, only twenty are yet to decide (Church Times). In other words, the more liberal contingent is coming in full number.
Well I suspect some dark arts going on here regarding David Anderson's piece, just as was indulged in by Bishop Wright. I never thought Wright had particular insight, other than what he thought he overheard, but that he was just trying to impress his friends and try to force the agenda their way. It is just as much the case that Rowan Williams decided to do this himself: that he could identify those who took part in say the consecration of Gene Robinson, and the Windsor Report put upon him an obligation to contact them at the least. Of course he wants all to produce a Covenant (such is the agenda), but he knows as much as anyone that a Covenant that is acceptable across the Communion cannot be the one that even the Open Evangelicals want, never mind the what the Conservatives want. It will all end up as a face saving operation, to get something done, but not much.