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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Archbishop Williams Meets With Presiding Bishop-Elect Jefferts-Schori

Lambeth Palace in background, Griswold on left, Rowan Williams in center, Jefforts-Schori on right.
Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts-Shori met Oct. 27 with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in a closed-door session at Lambeth Palace in London to discuss the state of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Introduced to Archbishop Williams by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, the three met for 90 minutes without aides present in Archbishop Williams’ office. The meeting was requested last spring by Bishop Griswold in order to introduce the person elected to succeed him.

Bishop Griswold told Anglican Communion News Service afterward that the discussions had been “cordial and collegial.” Bishop Jefferts Schori said she welcomed the opportunity to meet with Archbishop Williams and noted the three had shared a “frank conversation about challenges in the Communion.”

Prior to the meeting, sources close to the archbishop told The Living Church that Archbishop Williams intended to ask Bishop Jefferts Schori what her response would be as Presiding Bishop to the recommendations found in paragraph 144 of the Windsor Report. Paragraph 144 states:

Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites [of same-sex blessings], and recommend that bishops who have authorized such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorization. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion.

The question holds particular pertinence for Bishop Jefferts Schori, who as Bishop of Nevada authorized clergy to perform same-sex blessings. Archbishop Williams’ question should not be viewed as an attack on the presiding bishop-elect, sources said, but an example of the didactic method he frequently uses in examining difficult issues.

Archbishop Williams has also dismissed suggestions that the request for alternate primatial oversight (APO) was schismatic, privately telling the bishops in a recent letter that he considered them to be “faithful catholic bishops” within the Anglican Communion.

Writing in response to a private letter sent to Archbishop Williams in which the Camp Allen bishops affirmed their desire to be fully compliant with the recommendations of the Windsor Report, Archbishop Williams responded that he was grateful for the “tone” and “direction” of the meeting. He also expressed a desire for the Camp Allen bishops to be “magnetic” among The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. At the same time, he also made known that he has no desire to expel anyone from the communion of the Church.

His preferred solution, according to a bishop who has read the letter, remains an Anglican Covenant which would allow bishops and dioceses to opt in or out of full membership within the Anglican Communion.

Following the Lambeth Palace meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council announced that its secretary general, Canon Kenneth Kearon, would attend the Nov. 4 investiture of Bishop Jefferts Schori, while the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England would be represented by the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt. Rev. John Saxbee. The choice of Bishop Saxbee, president of the Modern Churchpersons Union, observers note, was made as a mark of respect for the presiding bishop-elect, as the MCU is one of the Church of England’s leading progressive advocacy groups.

Article written by (The Rev.) George Conger for Living Church.


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