Break­away leader, ho­mo­sex­ual bishop, get Can­ter­bury snub

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Ju­lia Duin

A few no­table names were miss­ing in the 850 in­vi­ta­tions is­sued on May 22 by the arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury to the once-ev­ery-decade Lam­beth Con­fer­ence of Angli­can Bishops in Eng­land.

Openly ho­mo­sex­ual New Hamp­shire Epis­co­pal Bishop V. Gene Robin­son was left out, as was Bishop Mar­tyn Minns, in­stalled re­cently as head of the Vir­ginia-based Con­vo­ca­tion of Angli­cans in North Amer­ica and as a mis­sion­ary bishop for the Angli­can Prov­ince of Nige­ria.

“I have to re­serve the right to with­hold or with­draw in­vi­ta­tions from bishops whose ap­point­ment, ac­tions or man­ner of life have caused ex­cep­tion­ally se­ri­ous di­vi­sion or scan­dal within the Com­mu­nion,” Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury Rowan Wil­liams said in his in­vi­ta­tion let­ter.

Re­ac­tions were swift. Epis­co­pal Pre­sid­ing Bishop Katharine Jef­ferts Schori urged U.S. bishops to take a “calm approach” re­gard­ing the Robin­son re­jec­tion, adding, “It is pos­si­ble that as­pects of this mat­ter may change in the next 14 months.”

About 10 hours af­ter in­vi­ta­tions to the three-week event were e-mailed at 9 a.m. Lon­don time, Nige­rian Arch­bishop Peter Aki­nola an­nounced that if Bishop Minns does not at­tend, his whole prov­ince could boy­cott Lam­beth.

“The with­hold­ing of an in­vi­ta­tion to a Nige­rian bishop, elected and con­se­crated by other Nige­rian bishops, will be viewed as with­hold­ing in­vi­ta­tion to the en­tire [122-mem­ber] House of Bishops of the Church of Nige­ria,” his of­fice said in a press re­lease.

Bishop Minns, who also is rec­tor of Truro Epis­co­pal Church in Fair­fax, Va., was con­se­crated in Au­gust in Abuja as a bishop of CANA, which the Church of Nige­ria set up as a mis­sion to be­lea­guered Epis­co­palians in the U.S. CANA has 34 con­gre­ga­tions, most of which have fled the Epis­co­pal Church be­cause of the Robin­son con­se­cra­tion and dif­fer­ences over bib­li­cal author­ity.

Also left off the Lam­beth list were six bishops be­long­ing to a sim­i­lar break­away group: the Angli­can Mis­sion in Amer­ica (AMIA), which is part of the Angli­can Prov­ince of Rwanda.

Bishop Robin­son re­leased a state­ment say­ing Can­ter­bury’s re­fusal to in­clude him is “an af­front to the en­tire Epis­co­pal Church.”

“At a time when the Angli­can Com­mu­nion is call­ing for a ‘lis­ten­ing process’ on the is­sue of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, it makes no sense to ex­clude gay and les­bian peo­ple from that con­ver­sa­tion,” he said. “It is time that the bishops of the Angli­can Com­mu­nion stop talk­ing about gay and les­bian peo­ple and start talk­ing with us.”

He also in­di­cated that a boy­cott may be in the off­ing.

“This is not about Gene Robin­son, nor the Dio­cese of New Hamp­shire,” he said. “It is about the Amer­i­can Church and its re­la­tion­ship to the Com­mu­nion. It is for the Epis­co­pal Church to re­spond to this chal­lenge, and in due time, I as­sume we will do so.”

Canon Ken­neth Kearon, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Angli­can Com­mu­nion, said in an in­ter­view that invit­ing the New Hamp­shire bishop “would be to ig­nore the very sub­stan­tial and very wide­spread ob­jec­tions in many parts of the Com­mu­nion to his con­se­cra­tion and to his min­istry.”

Bishop Robin­son could be in­vited to the July 16 to Aug. 4 gath­er­ing next year as a guest rather than as a par­tic­i­pat­ing bishop, Mr. Kearon said. But, he added, the bishop’s part­ner, Mark Andrew, would not be in­vited. Bishops’ spouses at Lam­beth typ­i­cally have their own con­fer­ence, and Bishop Robin­son re­cently an­nounced that he and Mr. Andrew will take ad­van­tage of New Hamp­shire’s soon-to-be-signed civil unions law.

As for Bishop Minns and the AMIA bishops, he said, “The or­ga­ni­za­tions in which they serve are not rec­og­nized by the Angli­can Com­mu­nion.”

How­ever, Arch­bishop Aki­nola, in a May 6 let­ter to Arch­bishop Wil­liams, called CANA “an ini­tia­tive of the Church of Nige­ria and there­fore a bona fide branch of the Angli­can Com­mu­nion.”

“If he served in Nige­ria, that was fine,” Mr. Kearon said of Bishop Minns. “But there was no rea­son to con­sider him. He was not el­i­gi­ble for an in­vi­ta­tion.”

Bishop Minns also is­sued a state­ment, say­ing the mat­ter was not so much about him “but about a world­wide Com­mu­nion that is torn at its deep­est level.”

De­pend­ing on whether U.S. Epis­co­pal bishops agree in Septem­ber to an ul­ti­ma­tum by Angli­can bishops not to con­se­crate any more ho­mo­sex­u­als, “the sit­u­a­tion may be­come even more com­plex,” he added. “One thing is clear: A great deal can and will hap­pen be­fore next July.”

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