Admiral of Morality: The View from Lambeth

Friday, February 02, 2007

The View from Lambeth

At mid-month the Presiding Bishop will join 37 other presiding bishops/primates for about a week near the beaches in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa. Chairing this meeting will be Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who personally and as steward of that storied office, has seen better days.

From Lambeth Palace the view is quite precarious.

There are all the jurisdictional and theological disputes undermining its continued position as a center of unity and vision, aided and compounded by its own missteps in its Windsor Report, its Panel of Reference and its procedures for an "Anglican Covenant."

There are the challenges and problems in Lambeth's own province, which has become even more inhospitable to the course it has unsuccessfully and haplessly, it must be said, tried to chart for it. If Lambeth is deaf to America, it is stopping up its ears to Britain.

In all of its responses to the current debates within its country and throughout the Communion, Lambeth has proceeded from a resolutely English conviction that its role and advice is essential to the continued well-being of both. It has urged all parties to all conflicts and controversies, to examine themselves and precisely why it is they stake out the places they do.

The singular shortcoming of Lambeth through all of this has been its unwillingness to direct these very questions at itself. It has displayed a penchant for secrecy, presumption, self-selection, hardheadedness, self-interest and, remarkably given its conviction that it is essential, fear.

In the process it has enlarged the very real risk that one way or another, it will lose the continued good will and partnership, of its most enduring ally, its first, oldest and most generous friend--The Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Perhaps it is only this spiritual earthquake that would result in a Lambeth more responsive and relevant to its age.

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