I need to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen. Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend. But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.
The Design Group, which comprises members from all of the regions of the Communion, is continuing its work on the programme under the wise chairmanship of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. In his video he has spoken of creating a “beautiful rhythm” of gathering together to pray, worship, walk and talk, wrestle with issues, break bread and reflect. He also makes an important point about difference. The Communion has always had what he calls “push and pull” on issues and this should not be a distraction – it is something to be celebrated. The Conference is not a meeting of like-minded people; it is space in which we can gather to express difference. And so everyone who is invited should come.
The Design Group’s task is not easy: there are so many issues competing for space in the programme. A number of important subjects will be discussed including mission and evangelism; reconciliation; economic justice. Human sexuality will also be one of them.