Admiral of Morality: R.S.V.P.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

R.S.V.P.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued his invitations to the decennial Lambeth Conference, with requests that reply slips be returned by July 31, once they are issued by the Lambeth Conference office. Recognizing that there is no General Convention this year, and that Episcopal churches tend to go on vacation beginning soon, Cantaur has graciously provided us with material to debate between now and September, when he visits the House of Bishops. He is a wise man.

Interestingly, the invites have gone out by email, and if bishops need further information or have questions, Cantaur invites them to send an email back, or visit the Lambeth conference website. That is fairly sophisticated for Lambeth.

Are they on one or two dedicated T1 lines, or do they use dial-up? Do they have tape backup? If Lambeth calls tech support, are they routed to India? Are they are on a mainframe or do they use blades? PC, or Mac? Did they elect the extended warranty for all this? We must discern prayerfully.

There are other questions, as well. The bishops of the Episcopal Church have been invited. Except for Gene Robinson, who has issued a statement at the Diocese of New Hampshire website saying his official exclusion is a "disappointment." Also not getting a reply slip--Martyn Minns, Akinola's deputy in the U.S.

According to the New York Times, Bishop Robinson may still be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference as a guest, but Rowan Cantaur is not contemplating inviting Minns in any capacity.

Why not? According to the BBC, "Canon Kearon said CANA did not have recognition as one of the bodies of the Anglican Church and Bishop Minns had not been invited on those grounds." He is not saying Minns is not a bishop, only that he is not a regular bishop of the Anglican Communion, and so not invited to the Lambeth Conference. Canon Kearon says Bishop Robinson is a regular bishop of the Anglican Communion, but one whose presence and ministry is so very controversial as understood by the Windsor Report, that his official presence might be disruptive. Minns is not going to be asked to attend at all, but Bishop Robinson might be asked to attend as a guest. Will CANA need to pay its Web elves overtime to strike all those "CANA is clearly and thoroughly 1000% Anglican and by the way the only TRUE Anglicans" statements from its web pages? Could be.

Canon Kearon speaks up for Cantaur by saying that there are substantial objections to Bishop Robinson's ministry. True enough, from certain quarters.

Those objections have led to many other objections and counter-objections, amongst them, objections to Rowan Williams' ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury. His discretionary, selective leadership has often been an embarrassment. His statements in affirmative defense of forms of discrimination are disgraceful. His silence on the concerted actions certain churches have directed to punish their own people is abominable. For a man who made his reputation on intellect and discernment there is nothing worse than stupidity, inaction, and wrong choices. He has weakened the office of Cantaur, of which he is simply steward. When he visits with our bishops in September, they should remind him in no uncertain terms, in the strongest language possible, that such failings do not go unnoticed. Apparently, no one else bothers to tell him.

The invitation notes that the Lambeth conference is not a Synod or council of the Church. It expressly notes that the gathering has this time been designed not to legislate or indoctrinate, but to strengthen the mission and community going forth in His name. This is forever a work in progress, to be sure.

Nonetheless, intentionally structuring the conference in this way is a welcome development. As we saw in Tanzania, there is nothing worse than Anglican bishops believing and acting as if they can legislate for the world. It will take more than the fine words of the invitation to keep this hope in place throughout the conference. It will take the concerted action of Rowan Cantaur and his staff. He will have to lead towards that goal.

Thankfully, we have the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, to look to as our model of discipleship, servant-hood, and ministry. Cantaur wisely invokes His name and life in his invitation, grounding his own call in the Lord's truth that in Him we are all one. If there is one thing that Rowan Cantaur may be praised for, it's for never passing up an opportunity to allude to this. Hopefully, he can find the strength and courage to live up to his own words.

It's something we can all pray for.


On the Web:

The Archbishop of Canterbury's invitation
The Lambeth Conference homepage
A story of one Episcopal summer chapel


1 Comments:

Anonymous muthah+ said...

The reminder that the ABC is merely a steward of his office should also be a reminder that all bishops are stewards of their dioceses and priests stewards of their parishes not potentates. I agree that ++Cantur has not done himself proud or the Church either for that matter.

But it is interesting that he will invite +Gene to attend but not +Mimms. +Mimms IS a bishop for whatever ministry he has been appointed, but has no legitimate jurisdiction, like a suffragan. Therefore he would not be invited.

Egg on face for the ABC doesn't seem to be a condition that bothers him.

5/23/2007 07:21:00 PM  

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