There was a bit of a controversy in London last week. One of the reporters for The Times, who has a reputation for nastiness and undermining the Church of England, surfaced a letter from Archbishop Williams that stated his view that a same-sex relationship “might…reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage.” The headline sensationalized it, speaking in the present tense, although the letter was written eight years ago. Williams has stated that as a theologian he is often “thinking aloud,” but he was not doing so as a bishop.
Of course the reporter was only too happy to call others for comments, particularly the Primate of the Southern Cone, who immediately questioned ++Rowan’s credibility as Archbishop of Canterbury, and disparaged the Lambeth Conference. He is a leader of the GAF-CON group, and is known to have more than just a foot out of the door. It was observed that he and a few other Primates chose not to receive communion from or with the Archbishop.
Within a day of the first article, nineteen Church of England bishops, led by +Tom Wright, a conservative, wrote The Times to criticize the newspaper’s and reporter’s bid to “scupper the conference.” [read the letter and related articles in the links at the end of this letter] They also supported ++Rowan’s right to his own views, even those with which they disagree; saying that he has acted appropriately as Archishop of Canterbury, and praising his leadership of the Lambeth Conference.
I was very pleased to see this letter of support. However, it is very clear that there are some within and others outside the Anglican Communion who are only too happy to undermine it by half-truths, innuendo, disinformation, and in many cases, out-right lies. At this point, it seems clear to me that we are experiencing the break-up of The Anglican Communion as we have known it. A number of Primates did not come to Lambeth, and showed by that act that they believe the rest of us have nothing to say to them. We have said what we could in the public arena but that allows for no nuances and does not have the strength of relationships to build on. The dynamics of this are like a congregational fight. Those who leave are, in affect, saying they want no reconciliation, they do not wish to work on a relationship. The saddest part is that they discard not only those with whom they disagree or are angry, they discard the friends who have stood by them, perhaps in agreement, but certainly in love. The difficulty on a larger scale is that anger can be just as intense as with those we know well, but love and affection are not, for distance and infrequency of meeting inhibit intimacy and trust, and a suspicious word can undermine so much. We have known some of that here.
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