In his report on the Africa meeting, Bishop Fearon notes the elephant in the Anglican living room, Lambeth Resolution I.10:
The Primates were honest and open and committed to holding on to Resolution I.10 (from Lambeth 1998) – but were willing to listen to other members of the Communion who find that Resolution restrictive. So there was a sense of brotherhood and belonging.
One can see here Lambeth teeing up the goal of the 2020 Lambeth Conference: to defang Lambeth I.10. If I may paraphrase:
Come to Lambeth. We shall not try to overturn your primitive attachment to the former Lambeth teaching on marriage. But you will meet some brilliant scholars and bishops who find that teaching “restrictive,” and you will hear touching stories of loving homosexual partnerships that have been blessed by the church. We can all go home then with a sense of brotherhood and belonging.
It seems that his appeal to choose Lambeth over Gafcon fell flat (one registered African Primate, to my knowledge, chose not to attend). So in what can only be seen as a desperation move (what we American footballers call a “Hail Mary pass”), the Secretary General sent out a confidential letter to the Primates four days before Gafcon began.
This letter perfectly represents what I have been calling the “Lambeth Establishment.” Bishop Fearon, a well-chosen mandarin of this Establishment, begins by flattering the Primates as “one of the four instruments that make up the smooth running of our Communion of churches.”
It is hard, frankly, to read this description of the “smooth running” bureaucracy with a straight face. It reminds me in an ironic sense of Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot, perfectly engineered with wheels within wheels and directed by the divine Spirit (Ezekiel chapter 1). Nothing could be further from the reality of current Instruments, in which the Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office have neutered the Primates’ Meeting, manipulated the Anglican Consultative Council, and turned the Lambeth Conference into an indabafest (see Essays 4 and 8 of my book for detail).