Updated, revised, corrected
A very partial account of the second day of the House of Bishops meeting based on conversations with three persons present in the meetings:
Today the House of Bishops heard from members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.
The speakers included Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East, whose presentation was leaked to conservative bloggers and is available here, Chancellor Philippa Amable of West Africa, Bishop James Tengatenga of Central Africa, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales and Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia.
Anis was the most confrontational. The bishops we spoke with were depressed by his presentation because it contrasted so sharply with the flexibility expressed in private conversation by other members of the delegation.
Ms. Amable, who attended the recent conference of African and Episcopal bishops convened by Trinity Church Wall Street in Spain, spoke, among others things, about the profound differences between American and west African cultures. She told the bishops that heterosexual monogamy was the “norm” and that they had to realize that the majority of the Primates did not “resonate” to the views of the Episcopal Church.
After Bishop Tengatenga’s presentation, Archbishop Aspinall reviewed the contents of the Dar es Salaam communique. Archbishop Morgan spoke about the breadth of beliefs and practices regarding human sexuality in Wales, and said the Episcopal Church was not alone in struggling with this issue.
One bishop we spoke with said a member of the Joint Standing Committee had offered a private apology for Archbishop Anis’ remarks.
All three of the people we spoke with said the mood of the bishops after the morning session was glum because most of the speakers seemed to be pushing them toward an either or choice between conscience and unity.
But Archbishop Rowan Williams, at an early afternoon press conference, suggested there was room for compromise:
“Despite what has been claimed, there is no ‘ultimatum’ involved. The primates asked for a response by September 30 simply because we were aware that this was the meeting of the house likely to be formulating such a response. The ACC and Primates Joint Standing Committee will be reading and digesting what the bishops have to say, and will let me know their thoughts on it early next week. After this I shall be sharing what they say, along with my own assessments, with the primates and others, inviting their advice in the next couple of weeks.
Williams also said that it was only natural that there would be a variety interpretations of the communiqué among the 38 Primates of the Communion, but that he did not read it as a set of demands, and that he did not see September 30 as a “deadline.”
(I suggested that the deadline had "lost some of its luster" in an article published on Monday.)
I am not certain about this, but I believe the deadline for submitting resolutions to be considered on Monday was at 4 or 5 p. m. Central time. There are numerous resolutions to be considered, and the Presiding Bishop and the leaders of the House may find it challenging to do them all justice. As one bishop said: This is a big sandbox and everybody has brought their favorite toys.