Friday, July 25, 2008

Lambeth: Is Inquisition on the cards?

From George Conger:

Canterbury: A “bombshell” report is expected to be delivered to bishops attending the 14th Lambeth Conference on July 28 that is expected to call for the Episcopal Church to abandon its push for gay bishops and blessings.

The request is expected to come in the third presentation of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) to the bishops at Lambeth and follows a call for the creation of an Anglican Holy Office to police the boundaries of the faith.

Backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican “Faith and Order Commission” will be a fifth instrument of unity for the Anglican Communion.

Plans for were disclosed on July 23 during the second of three briefings on the work of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) chaired by the former Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Clive Handford.

In its briefing paper to the bishops, the WCG commended the creation of an “Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission that could give guidance on the ecclesiological issues raised by our current ‘crisis’.”

The Anglican Inquisition proposal came in the last sentence of the briefing paper delivered by Bishop Handford to the bishops. “One person said it would be a good thing and welcomed it,” Bishop Handford explained, but noted there was little substantive discussion of the proposal by the bishops.

Created by Dr. Rowan Williams to advise him on “matters arising from the Windsor Report,” the WCG has prepared three briefings for the bishops that asks “Where we are now”, “Where we should be?”, and “How do we get from here to there.”

The first two briefings addressed the “severity of the situation” within the Communion, focusing on the “inconsistency between the stated intent and the reality” of the steps taken by the Episcopal Church to conform to the primates’ request.”

“The implications of requests and responses are either not fully thought through or they are disregarded. The consequences of actions have not always been adequately addressed,” they said. . .

The state of the Episcopal Church was one of “turmoil” the briefing said, with parishes and dioceses seceding to join other provinces, and “litigation and interventions” becoming “locked into a vicious spiral.”

In discussion following the first presentation, 21 bishops spoke, of whom 17 were white Western bishops.
Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy (Illinois) spoke of the difficulties faced by traditionalists in the United States, while Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield (Illinois) enumerated the innovations of doctrine and discipline that have occurred in the Episcopal Church in recent years.

However, the majority of speakers at the closed-door session came from the Episcopal Church’s liberal wing, and argued the American church was being unfairly caricatured. Bishop James Mathes of San Diego complained of cross-border interventions into his diocese by overseas primates, while other bishops suggested the wider Communion did not understand the unique circumstances of the United States.

On July 25, the Bishop of Washington, the Rt Rev John B Chane dismissed comments made by the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez that the American church was unravelling. Archbishop Gomez’s observations were “dishonest”, Bishop Chane told his American counterparts. . .

Read it all.

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