Monday, July 21, 2008

American bishops meet, ‘infuriated’ Robinson excluded

From the Living Church:

Despite a personal plea from Bishop Gene Robinson, the bishops of The Episcopal Church adhered to the rules of the Lambeth Conference, which have prohibited the Bishop of New Hampshire from formal participation in the decennial event at Canterbury.

Bishop Robinson said the news was “infuriating,” and that he learned on Saturday he would not be allowed to participate during time set aside Monday afternoon for meetings of bishops from the provinces.

“Well, I guess it makes sense that he wouldn’t be allowed to participate since he isn’t invited to the conference,” said the Rt. Rev. Gordon Scruton, Bishop of Western Massachusetts, during an Episcopal News Service media briefing Sunday evening.

Bishop Robinson wrote about his exclusion on an internet journal he is maintaining during the conference.

“If nothing can be done to change this decision, it will be a particularly painful blow,” he wrote on Saturday. “At our House of Bishops meeting in March, I pleaded with the House not to let Lambeth separate us. For me to be excluded from my own House of Bishops seems especially cruel and unnecessary.”

There was substantive discussion of Bishop Robinson’s exclusion from the provincial meeting when the American bishops gathered, with some pushing for a public statement or resolution to be issued. But a more cautious approach prevailed, according to several who were present. Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta addressed the issue during the ENS media briefing Monday night.

“This was not a meeting of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church,” he said. “It was intended as an informal time together.” He added that his understanding was that the purpose of the provincial meetings was to provide a chance to reflect on the events of the conference to date.

During a media briefing Monday afternoon, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was asked why Bishop Robinson did not receive an invitation when his consecrators did.

“The problem that we face within the Anglican Communion is that bishops gathering for the Lambeth Conference represent not only their diocese, but their participation in the fellowship of worldwide Anglican Christians,” Archbishop Williams said. “Where there are bishops whose participation in that worldwide fellowship is for one reason or another questionable, that’s the reason for questioning their participation here.

“I think the difficulty that I faced and some others faced was of those who consecrated Gene Robinson, some or a number later expressed a wish that they hadn’t,” Archbishop Williams said. “Some are retired and of course a great many American bishops have come into office since then. The American House of Bishops corporately asked for forgiveness for offense caused last year. Now you’ll remember that I circulated to all the provinces last year with a request as to whether people thought this was a satisfactory response to the concerns expressed, and you’ll be aware that the Joint Standing Committee and 50-percent-plus or more of the provinces said, ‘Well, that’s probably all right.’ Now that was my basis for saying I don’t think I want to go down the list of consecrators and say yes, no or possibly and the House of Bishops said something corporately which not everyone thought was adequate, but many did.”. . .

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