Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Caving In

So the Bishop of Jerusalem, Sulheil Dawani, says he will attend the GAFCON event after all. The Melbourne Anglican article of 3 March is headed Bishops' meeting will send 'wrong signals' and states:

This surprising participant is the Bishop of Jerusalem himself, who pleaded with GAFCON organisers last month to hold the event elsewhere.

"It's happening, they are coming," said Bishop Suheil Dawani during a visit to Australia in February. "I will be there. I cannot ignore such a gathering. But I'll give them our message of unity, of how the church must also be united, and of the importance of our ministry in Jerusalem and all over the world."

Bishop Dawani told TMA that he is nervous about the impact of such a controversial conference in an area which is already beset by violent disputes and hardship.

Later on in this article there is further comment:

"Getting together" is a common theme for the Bishop, who believes that talking together about differences is an important way forward to solving division. He is keen to promote interfaith and ecumenical dialogue in the Holy Land, and the interfaith groups with which he is involved communicate regularly with the political leaders. The GAFCON gathering, he believes, may undermine the Anglican Church's credibility in setting this example, and he said he was disappointed that the GAFCON organisers did not seem to listen to his concerns, although GAFCON organisers have since split the conference between Jordan and Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem component called a "pilgrimage".

"In Jerusalem, we face so many problems, we are challenged on a daily basis to be with each other, and that's why we are so involved in ecumenical and interfaith activities. These things [at GAFCON] will be misunderstood by people, and will give the wrong signals to people in Palestine and Jordan. It is very controversial, it is the wrong time and the wrong place."

"I hope that at Lambeth we can witness a new era of coming together and put our differences aside," he said. "If we have differences, we have to discuss it internally in good spirit, because our people are looking to us. If our people see division, and we are not coming with a good spirit, it will affect their spirit, and their lives. We don't want to be an obstacle for our people. I hope that Lambeth will get a new spirit for Anglicans all over the world."

An earlier report (February 22) in the Melbourne Anglican also had a report about Bishop Dawani's response:

"This is not the right time, not the right place," Bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem Suheil Dawani told TMA on Monday during his recent visit to Melbourne. He reiterated his concerns that the ministry of reconciliation in the Diocese of Jerusalem would not be helped by the conference, and it would undermine interfaith and ecumenical relationships in the region.

Bishop Dawani said he was disappointed that the conference was going ahead but was resigned to it happening and would give the conference a "message of unity".

So it is hardly a rattling endorsement of GAFCON but rather a reluctant visit to preach a contrary message whereas his focus is to be clearly on the Lambeth Conference and its attempts at reconciliation.

Yes, but he is going to GAFCON against his own former thoughts. I call it: Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly.


Brian R said...

Yet he is doing the polite thing as Bishop of the area when other bishops are visiting. He was not treated so politely here in Sydney by the Jensenites. He shows the GAFCONites up for what they are - rude little people full of their own self-importance and so sure they are right. Let us not criticise him but pray for him.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

That's fair and more charitable comment than mine.

Anonymous said...

You will see many more going to GAFCON and many will go to both GAFCON and Lambeth.

Do not think the game is over may well yet see +Akinola at Lambeth if the ABC changes his mind and disinvites those who "consecrated" VGR....better to lose a few bishsops fom a 800k church in the US than 30m+ Anglicans in Africa

The ABC is scared that GAFCON will have the representatives of more of the world's Anglicans than Lambeth...and all the growing provinces. No point Lambeth being 3 weeks of chat for a western liberal church that will have all but disappeared in half a century (at current rates of decline, despite being ever so "inclusive")

Anonymous said...

There is also the 'harm reduction' argument for attending. By being there, he at least is privy to their conversations, can see first-hand what they are up to, and may be in a position to modify their behaviour so as to minimise damage to his diocese. He is really in an impossible position and does deserve and need our prayers.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I don't think the Archbishop will disinvite any more people, especially as there is no change of position in TEC since he decided to invite, and it is not simply a numbers matters nor predictions about future numbers. In fact he may well take a view that he has seen a falling away of those who are being absolute in not going to Lambeth. His emphasis is on the Advent Letter as a hook and Catholic ecclesiology as an outcome.

(You sound very much like the NP late of Thinking Anglicans and attending at Holy Trinity Brompton.)

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I rather agree Mary Clara - it may be rather optimistic to think Bishop Dawani can change their behaviour. The danger is that he will be used to legitimise their gathering - as in "We were welcomed by the bishop of the diocese".