Monday 12 May 2008

Letters Pray

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to all bishops of the Anglican Communion, as also recorded here.

So at last we have the letters that were to go out "presently" - except they are not the contact assumed, but one Pentecost Letter sent to all bishops.

The Advent Letter of 2007 that precedes this did not as such promise letters to bishops who would be so disinvited. This assumption came later. The Advent Letter had included this sentence:

I intend to be in direct contact with those who have expressed unease about this, so as to try and clarify how deep their difficulties go with accepting or adopting the Conference's agenda.
These contacts have been via private conversations held with those who may have a problem with the Lambeth agenda. Here is the full key passage that explains this and the basis of participation:

As I noted when I wrote to you in Advent, this makes it all the more essential that those who come to Lambeth will arrive genuinely willing to engage fully in that growth towards closer unity that the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process envisage. We hope that people will not come so wedded to their own agenda and their local priorities that they cannot listen to those from other cultural backgrounds. As you may have gathered, in circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together.

I suggest that this involves in practice a considerable watering down of any restrictiveness of the invitations. Such absences are likely - if at all - to come from private conversations. The emphasis is rather: come and join in, be a part of the agenda.

What Bishop Tom Wright said at the Fulcrum Lecture was wholly misleading. Letters have not been sent selectively to some bishops that can be interpreted as disinviting them - not "presently" (as later from Lambeth Palace) and not at all. Not unless there has been a difficult private conversation.

Baby Blue Online was far too optimistic with its point of view: waiting and waiting, it was repeatedly sure it could rely on the words of Bishop Tom Wright. Nope. The bishops will come and clash: the Holy Spirit of Pentecost expression, and the painful cross of clashing, so we are told, via these predominant small groups.

Clearly the Covenant is the intended outcome - such is the agenda - though it must be obvious by now that existing actual Anglican Churches have said "no" or "not like this" in some numbers so far. The outcome is entirely open.

No comments: