FEB (Female English Bishops) Watch

As those of you following its General Synod know, the Church of England is heading with gathering momentum toward allowing women to become bishops. Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service has the story.

I have wondered, in the wake of our General Convention, how bishops from our Church would have been received had they inserted themselves into the midst of this debate, perhaps with a bit of trans-Atlantic telephonic arm-twisting, or a bit of rambling at an open microphone or maybe a lengthy last minute missive laying out what sorts of actions would be acceptable to the rest of the Communion. Not well, I suspect. “Arrogant Americans,” that sort of thing.

Stephen Bates, who is covering the Synod, posted this on the Guardian’s blog site:

“When I saw the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sunday, he asked me how I thought Saturday’s debate had gone. He nodded in agreement when I said that it seemed all the arguments had been made before. I wish he would take a leaf out of the Archbishop of York’s book and tell what he described as his “currently confused and struggling church” a little more bluntly how he feels.

I asked him how he felt and he replied sadly: “You don’t want to know.” Actually, I did. But deep gloom seems to be surrounding the senior staff that the covenant plan to save the Anglican communion is falling apart even before anyone’s started discussing what might be in it. One senior figure admitted he did not think the communion could survive until the next scheduled meeting of all the world’s Anglican bishops in 2008. Katharine Jefferts Schori has been invited for an early meeting at Lambeth Palace within the next few weeks. They hope to integrate her more closely into the network of Anglican church leaders but this seems a vain prospect given that so many parts of the church’s world still don’t accept the idea of women in leadership, any more than gays.

Mention the name of Nigeria’s conservative (and outspoken) Archbishop Peter Akinola and a strange convulsive, wringing, motion comes over Rowan Williams’s hands. If only he would…if only he dared.”

I boldfaced the business about all of the arguments having been made before because it seems to me that the same was true at our General Convention. Which is why I am puzzled by the spate of articles appearing recently on blogs and list-servs about how our governing structures prevented us from having the kind of conversations that we needed to have in Columbus.

I felt the opposite. We talked extensively about the Windsor-related issues. We have been talking about little else for the last three years. We haven’t talked our way to agreement, and we haven’t persuaded those for whom it is a Communion-breaking issue that it isn’t a Communion-breaking issue. But this has nothing to do with either the quantity or quality of our conversation. It has to do with the fact that people involved in the conversations had deeply held beliefs that they would not surrender.

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