Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lambeth more successful than expected, says Archbishop

Despite protests and divisions at the recent Lambeth Conference, Anglican leaders have succeeded in rebuilding trust and relationships, says the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"At the end of our time together, many people, especially some of the newer bishops, said that they had been surprised by the amount of convergence they had seen," Dr Rowan Williams stated in a letter sent on Tuesday to the bishops of the Anglican Communion.

"And there can be no doubt that practically all who were present sincerely wanted the Communion to stay together," he stressed.

Hundreds of Anglicans gathered in Canterbury for the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference in July. Some 200 conservative Anglican bishops boycotted the meeting partly over the attendance of pro-gay clergy, including those involved in the 2003 consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

With divisions over Scripture and homosexuality wracking the Communion, organisers of the 2008 Lambeth Conference chose not to draft resolutions this time and instead to focus on conversation and rebuilding relationships.

"The Conference Design Group believed strongly that the chief need of our Communion at the moment was the rebuilding of relationships – the rebuilding of trust in one another – and of confidence in our Anglican identity," said Dr Williams in his letter.

He added that the conference had been designed to allow every bishop's voice to be heard.

"I believe that the conference succeeded in doing this to a very remarkable degree – more than most people expected," he said.

The Archbishop still acknowledged the challenge that still lies ahead for unity within the Communion and even the possibility of further division.

"As the proposals for an Anglican Covenant now go forward, it is still possible that some will not be able to agree," he wrote.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said earlier in the month that he believes a split is inevitable.

A "negotiated orderly separation" was the best way forward for the Anglican Communion, he said, arguing that the global body "cannot hold in tension convictions and practices that are incompatible, and so not patent of 'reconciliation'".

Staying together could "damage the life and witness of Anglican churches as much in the Global South as in North America and in other provinces that have followed the lead of The Episcopal Church", he added in a comment earlier this month after the Lambeth Conference. The Episcopal Church in the US is at the heart of the divisions in the worldwide Communion over its consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson.

At the conclusion of Lambeth, the majority of Anglican bishops proposed an immediate halt to the ordination of openly gay persons, same-sex blessings and cross-border interventions. Still the diversity of opinion particularly on the issue of homosexuality poses a challenge to the Communion's ongoing efforts to stay together.

"How far the intensified sense of belonging together will help mutual restraint in such matters (as same-sex blessings) remains to be seen," noted Dr Williams.
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(Source: CT )

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