By Matthew Davies, October 22, 2008
[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and deposed Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan met privately in London last week.
The Lambeth Palace press office confirmed that the meeting took place on October 15, but would not disclose details of the conversation between Williams and Duncan, saying it was "one of many private meetings" the archbishop hosts at his London residence.
Duncan was deposed on September 19 by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with the consent of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops.
Addressing the media on October 17 at All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, Duncan said he maintains regular contact with the Archbishop of Canterbury but stopped short of revealing that a meeting had taken place. "I have tried in the last five years never to surprise him," he said. "He is certainly aware of my presence here in the United Kingdom. He is informed about our situation. He is attempting to lead in what are clearly uncharted times."
Duncan said that the "institutions of the Anglican Communion are in a season of real re-evaluation," adding that he thinks the Archbishop of Canterbury "has not found it possible, in terms of what he believes the limitation of his office are, to have done the things that actually would have secured the role of his office over the long haul of the 21st century. This is not an office which, in terms of the life of the Anglican Communion for the future, is going to look anything like it did for the previous century."
Duncan was charged with "abandonment of communion" for his actions in openly planning to remove his diocese from the Episcopal Church to align with the South America-based Province of the Southern Cone, which is led by Archbishop Gregory Venables.
A September 18 news release posted on the website of the realigned diocese said that "Bishop Duncan's own continuing status as a bishop in the Anglican Communion has been secured by the Province of the Southern Cone" and quoted Venables as saying that "effectively immediately" Duncan was a member of that House of Bishops.
In 1974, the Archbishop of Canterbury handed over metropolitical authority for the dioceses of the Southern Cone and, in 1981, a new province was formed that includes Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
British immigrants brought Anglicanism to South America during the 19th century and the South American Missionary Society (SAMS) continues its work today among its indigenous peoples, the Anglican Communion website notes. Diocese of Pittsburgh Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven will become SAMS mission director, a new position based in the U.K., on January 1, 2009.
Duncan has also been leading the effort to organize and have recognized an Anglican province in North America. He began that effort in earnest in September 2007 when he gathered 51 bishops representing several self-identified Anglican organizations in Pittsburgh and announced the plan. The Common Cause Council of Bishops said on September 28, 2007 that it planned to spend the next 15 months developing an "Anglican union" that at least some Anglican Communion primates would recognize.
In June 2008, the Global Anglican Future Conference, a gathering of conservative Anglicans and former Episcopalians, including some Anglican Communion primates, said in its Jerusalem Declaration that "we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the [GAFCON] Primates' Council."
-- Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the Anglican Communion.