Invitations to the next Lambeth Conference were sent to nearly all the bishops in the Anglican Communion on Tuesday.
Three bishops known not to have been invited are the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, a gay man living in a partnership; the Missionary Bishop consecrated in Virginia by Archbishop Akinola, the Rt Revd Martyn Minns; and the Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Nolbert Kunonga, a staunch supporter of Robert Mugabe.
None is named in the letter sent by Dr Williams with his invitations; but he writes: “There are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice.” The names were confirmed by the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon. A fourth bishop, so far unnamed, is also being investigated after questions about his consecration.
The invitations end speculation about whether a welcome would be extended to the bishops in the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Both Churches have key debates ahead about whether they will have a moratorium on gay consecrations and the blessing of gay couples. In 2005, archbishops in the Global South wrote to Dr Williams: “We do not see why you cannot warn [the US and Canada] that they will not be invited to Lambeth 2008 unless they truly repent.”
Anger among liberals about the exclusion of Bishop Robinson, however, means that the row is likely to continue. In a statement on Tuesday, the Bishop called the move “an affront to the entire Episcopal Church”.