Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a brief statement to U.S. church leaders urging calm in response to the announcement Tuesday, reminding the bishops that “it is possible that aspects of this matter may change in the next 14 months.”
Anglican leaders have given the U.S. denomination until Sept. 30 to step back from its support of gays or risk losing its full membership in the communion. The Episcopal bishops will meet next on Sept. 20 in New Orleans.
“This decision places the vast majority of American bishops along with others throughout the world in an embarrassing position,” said the Rev. Martin Reynolds of Britain’s Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. “If they accept their Lambeth invitations this might appear to support bishop Robinson’s victimization, while if they reject the invitation they will abandon our communion to the homophobes.”
In 2004, Robinson said that he told Williams he would be willing to attend Lambeth “in a diminished capacity” such as an observer if that would help bring conservatives to the table. Canon Kenneth Kearon, the communion’s secretary-general, said Tuesday that Robinson still could be invited as a guest.
“The question of Gene Robinson … I think has exercised the archbishop of Canterbury’s mind for quite some time,” Kearon said. “However, for the archbishop to simply give full recognition at this conference would be to ignore the very substantial and very widespread objections in many parts of the communion to his consecration and to his ministry.”
Robinson said in a statement Tuesday that “it makes no sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the conversation.”
“It is time that the bishops of the Anglican Communion stop talking about gay and lesbian people and start talking with us,” he said.
Kearon said Williams is not considering a guest invitation for Minns, who was installed May 5 as head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.