What follows is a statement from the Presiding Bishop on the upcoming meeting regarding “alternative primatial oversight.”
I don’t know whether it is significant that none of the bishops who opposed the “manner of life” resolution–passed on the last day of General Convention and meant to insure our ongoing involvement in conversations regarding the future of the Anglican Communion–have been invited. But any meeting which requires a conservative counterweight to the resolutely centerist Peter Lee of Virginia (see the statement) is weighted heavily to one side.
My hunch is that the composition of this group will give momentum to an argument/fear already abroad in liberal circles: that when push comes our elected episcopal leadership may well betray the convictions of the majorities that elected them for the sake of what they perceive to be our institutional viability.
I am not suggesting that a betryal is in the works, but this matter continues to be handled on both sides of the ocean in a way certain to demoralize the Church’s left/center majority.
I would feel a lot better about this meeting if some lay people, such as Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, were involved.
I have become aware of a great deal of speculation regarding a meeting that will take place in New York in mid-September. I would like, therefore, to offer a few clarifying words on what has been conceived as
an opportunity for those of differing perspectives to come together in a spirit of mutual respect to exchange views.
Shortly after the General Convention, Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, shared with me some conversations he had had with the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the whole notion of
“alternative primatial oversight” and the difficulty in making a response. Though application for the same had been made to the Archbishop, it was clear in our conversation that the Archbishop, though symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, has no direct authority over the internal life of the Provinces that make up the Communion. Canon Kearon’s point was that such requests needed to be discussed and a resolution be sought within the Episcopal Church itself. We agreed that the most helpful next step might be to have a candid conversation to
include the Presiding Bishop-elect and me together with bishops who have expressed a need for “alternative primatial oversight,” and to have Canon Kearon join with us in the conversations. Bishops Duncan and Iker
were then asked to be participants. We also agreed that the group might be expanded by other bishops to be chosen by the participants themselves. Bishops Duncan and Iker invited Bishops Salmon, Stanton and
Wimberly to take part. I have asked Bishops Henderson, O’Neill and Sisk.
This is the genesis of the meeting now set for mid-September. Bishop Peter Lee was asked to serve as convener and he in turn thought it would be helpful were he joined by a bishop known to have views different from
his own. Accordingly, Bishop John Lipscomb was also asked to serve as convener. Whether or not this is the first in a series or in fact a one-time conversation will be decided by the group itself.
As I write these words I am deeply mindful of the state of the world and of the desperate need for the costly and all-engaging work of reconciliation. In the light of the ongoing struggles across the globe, and certainly at this moment in the Middle East, the preoccupation with our own internal disagreements must not allow us to close our eyes to the needs of the world and its suffering people.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
August 22, 2006