From Religious Intelligence:
Thursday, 24th July 2008. 1:47pm
By Toby Cohen
Canterbury: The legitimacy of the Lambeth Conference has been called into question, admitted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, but he deflected blame towards those who were not there.
Lambeth Conference’s legitimacy ‘called into question’
While 670 bishops have gathered for the conference, hundreds have rejected the authority of Canterbury and those most virulently opposed to gay bishops will be missing from the key debates.
Dr Williams said: “There is a question about the legitimacy, so to speak, of what emerges from this. It’s a point I put as strongly as I can to the people who are not here in fact; that if they want their voice incorporated in this, this is the way to do it.”
One of the three English Bishops boycotting the conference, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, said: “If Rowan wants to put that point to me, he should ask me himself.
“It’s not a question of who’s there and who’s not. It’s a question of does anybody feel that what Lambeth does is a definitive statement of what the Anglican Communion believes, because thus far it’s not been the case that people have held to agreements made.”
Bishop Broadbent also rejected the suggestion that by not being there, he could not have his voice incorporated: “I don’t think anyone’s ruled themselves out of the right to comment on the Conference’s conclusions. The bigger question is will Lambeth produce any definitive solutions to the problems of the Anglican Communion, and even if they do, will the Churches in North America take any notice?”
Churches rebelling against Lambeth collected for the Gafcon meeting in Jerusalem a month ago, but Dr Williams issued a thinly veiled rebuke at this challenge to his office. He said: “I think people will have to make the judgement as to whether those provinces who are not here have a coherent alternative to what the Communion as gathered here is saying and wanting to do.”
Dr Williams acknowledge the protest of these provinces, but refused to acknowledge that schism was inevitable: “They have expressed grave disquiet and criticism which has to be responded to and engaged with in the months and years ahead.”
The Archbishop admitted it would have been more difficult if the absent bishops had turned up, but still wanted his message to those bishops to be: “We miss you.” Asked whether he in turn missed being at the conference, Bishop Broadbent said: “Give me choice of three weeks in London and the south of France, or three weeks with a bunch of Bishops. Come on, no contest!”