By George Conger
BISHOP Gene Robinson is not coming to Lambeth. The New Hampshire bishop, CANA Bishop Martyn Minns and Bishop Chuck Murphy of the AMiA and his suffragans will not receive invitations to the July 16 to Aug 4 gathering in Canterbury of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, the secretary of the 2008 Lambeth Conference said this week.
Invitations to the 2008 conference have been mailed to over 800 bishops by the Conference’s host, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. Invitations to two other diocesan bishops, including the controversial Bishop of Harare, Dr Nolbert Kunonga, have been held pending further “consultation,” said Canon Kearon, the ACC secretary general. Dr Williams is “seeking further advice” on inviting Dr Kunonga, Canon Kearon told The Church of England Newspaper but noted his case and that of “one or two others” had “nothing to do with the Windsor process.” In 2002 the EU banned Dr Kunonga from travel to Europe in response to his complicity with the crimes of the regime of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe.
A spokesman for the ACC noted Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife would not be invited either.
In 2005 Bishop Cavalcanti and 32 of his clergy were deposed by the Primate of Brazil for contumacy.
They and over 90 per cent of the communicants in the diocese transferred to the jurisdiction of the Province of the Southern Cone under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Gregory Venables.
In a letter accompanying the invitation, Dr Williams stated he hoped the meeting would be “a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world.”
He noted that Lambeth would not be “a formal Synod or Council of the bishops of the Communion” nor does attending the Conference commit a bishop to accept “the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.” Dr Williams said he had reserved the right “to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”
Canon Kearon stated there was “no question that Gene Robinson had been duly elected and consecrated” Bishop of New Hampshire in 2005. However, paragraph133 of the Windsor Report recommends the Archbishop “exercise very considerable caution in inviting or admitting him to the councils of the Communion,” he said.
The “archbishop recognises the widespread objections in many parts of the communion to [Bishop Robinson’s] consecration and to his ministry,” said Canon Kearon. However, the “Archbishop intends to explore the possibility of inviting [Bishop Robinson] to Lambeth as a guest or observer,” he added.
The Bishops of the Anglican Mission in America would not be invited to Lambeth because of the decision taken by Archbishop George Carey in 2000. Archbishop Carey “wrote to them saying he could not recognise their ministry” and that their “consecrations were irregular,” Canon Kearon explained. This decision was “confirmed at Oporto” by the Primates in 2000 and the “decision was already fixed” by Dr Williams’ predecessor.
The case of CANA Bishop Martyn Minns exhibits “no difference” from the AMiA and he falls into the same category, Canon Kearon said.
Dr Williams has been under intense pressure to act upon the Lambeth invitations. While the Conference has no juridical powers, it is seen as the symbolic centre of Anglican identity ”” and the arbiter of who is and is not an Anglican. The Primate of Canada, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, urged Dr Williams to postpone Lambeth to forestall the political confrontation
A number of American and British bishops had suggested they may boycott Lambeth should Bishop Robinson not be invited.
However, on May 15 the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez told The Church of England Newspaper the Global South Primates had written to Dr. Williams saying that if Bishop Robinson were invited to Lambeth, the Global South bishops would not attend.
–This article appears in the May 25, 2007 edition of the Church of England Newspaper