Here’s what’s been crossing the wires this evening from various and sundry corners. All this information is sourced as cited–some reporters are still using various unnamed witnesses. Some of this you’ve heard from our sources, but in case you’d like to see confirmation of the “it’s not an ultimatum” statement, read on.
This take on the meeting from Jonathan Petre in the UK Telegraph:
Dr Rowan Williams is holding two days of crisis talks in New Orleans in an eleventh-hour effort to persuade the bishops of the American branch of Anglicanism to reverse their pro-gay agenda. But insiders said that a number of the liberal bishops were in no mood to capitulate, and any compromise that they might eventually accept was unlikely to placate conservatives who want them ousted.
However, his word-of-mouth reporting (remember what we said about sources?) reveals that:
According to witnesses, [Robinson] said that for Dr Williams to present the situation as a choice between fidelity to gays and fidelity to the Communion “is one of the most dehumanising things I have heard in a long time” and he wanted no part of it.
Another liberal, the Bishop of Massachussetts, the Rt Rev Thomas Shaw, also criticised the Archbishop for failing to honour the American Church’s “prophetic discernment” in consecrating Bishop Robinson.
One insider said: “The speeches we heard suggested that the tide was running heavily in the direction of saying to the Archbishop, thank you for your concern but we have made up our minds and we are going forward.”
Local media outlets are reporting on how the meeting’s unfolding is playing out in the dioceses close to home, such as, on the one hand, Quincy in the Quad-Cities Online (Ill.), with an angle that certainly reflects the sources quoted. On the other hand, The Chicago Tribune, quoting Bps. William Persell and John Chane, is decidedly vague in this piece, perhaps because the reporter doesn’t understand all the issues at play?
The Washington Post reports that reports of this being the Anglican Communion’s final answer may be premature:
The head of the Anglican Communion offered words of encouragement yesterday to U.S. Episcopal bishops under fire for their support of gay men and lesbians, saying they aren’t facing an “ultimatum,” even as other leaders of the worldwide church insisted the Americans are teetering on being forced out of the communion.
Their write up is here.
The Agence-French Press, syndicated onto Google a la AP, has the direct quote on this:
Williams, while acknowledging the contentious nature of the debate, sought to downplay talk of a split.
“Despite what has been claimed, there is no ultimatum involved,” he said at a press conference.
Asked if the church was prepared to let some congregations break away, Williams said, “I think it would be rather an admission of defeat if we said that we were incapable of working together on the issues that divide us.
“Whether we get to that point, I don’t know. I have to say God forbid.”
Neither Williams nor Jefferts Schori would indicate how the Episcopal church will respond.
“We have had stimulating and provocative conversation over the last day and a half,” Jefferts Schori said. “The hope is that we have a full response by the time we close our meeting.”
Williams, however, hinted that a delicate balance was needed so as to respect theological convictions while avoiding discrimination.
More from the AFP here.
The Associated Press report perhaps illuminates most concisely how this plays against the Primates’ September 30 deadline, supplementing with another quote from the press conference, in this piece:
“It’s been presented sadly as a set of demands,” Williams said in a news conference before he left. “I don’t think that what was in the primates’ minds. In fact, I’m sure it isn’t.”
The rest of that story is here.
More to come in the morning, as my newsfeeds runneth over, but one parting thought, from the blog of Bp. Christopher Epting, the Ecubishop, who is also blogging from the meeting. He notes that emotions run deep on these issues and it shows, but tomorrow is another day:
Another difficult day. We listened to passionate testimonies from members of the Anglican Consultative Council and several Primates of the Anglican Communion. Clearly, they want more from us than General Convention has said. We will certainly not — and cannot — usurp the prerogatives of our synodical form of government including bishops, priests, deacons, and the laity making decisions together.
On the other hand, there are — in our checks and balances system — specific responsibilities given to bishops, as well as to the other orders of ministry. We can give or withhold consent to episcopal ordinations. We can authorize, or refuse to authorize, specific liturgies in our dioceses. We can cooperate, or refuse to cooperate, with “delegated episcopal oversight” in our dioceses. These are among the decisions we will have to make.
After thanking the Archbishop of Canterbury and our other visitors on the floor of the House this morning, I also thanked the House of Bishops Planning Committee for the schedule. Today was not a day to craft a “Mind of the House Resolution” on these matters. Many of us were too angry.
But now we have the weekend to “take a deep breath.” We hang dry wall and paint houses tomorrow. We worship with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday.