updated most recently at 4:00 p.m., EDT, to include links to coverage of the press conference on the MDGs
By Jim Naughton
What if they gave a news conference and nobody came? Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, upon whom the press falls with gusto whenever they catch sight of her, was one of the presenters at this afternoon’s press conference, but played to a relatively small crowd, due, in part, to a party being given by the Times of London. Even the press comes up for air.
I have to admit that I missed her briefing as well, having spent the afternoon in Tunbridge Wells, home of former Guardian religion correspondent Steve Bates, who fed me an excellent lunch.
I am just catching up now in the press room with Simon Sarmiento and some reporters from the Church Times and the BBC’s Sunday program, all of whom were impressed with her performance. I don’t want to spoil stories that they worked on and I didn’t, so I am going to leave you in suspense. She spoke primarily about the need for unified action on climate change, but, to their way of thinking, dealt skillfully with questions that tried to draw her out on the issues of Anglican unity and homosexuality.
The Presiding Bishop’s hope, one correspondent said to me, is that people will agree that making progress on life and death issues such as those embodied in the Millennium Development Goals is more important than articulating and acting upon majority sentiment on the issue of homosexuality.
Over the last few days, as I’ve pounded on the keyboard, I’ve been asking myself whether anything has actually happened here at the Lambeth Conference. I don’t have an answer. Certainly, we’ve written stories. Some of them seemed more important in the moment than they seem in retrospect. (Relations between the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Sudan are roughly the same today as they were on Tuesday before Archbishop Daniel Deng called upon Bishop Gene Robinson to resign.) Others seem more indicative of an attitude than of a likely development. (The Windsor Continuation Group may well favor something called a Faith and Order Commission, and they may hope it resembles a holy office, but it is entirely possible that such a commission will never be formed. It’s equally possible that the commission, it will assume a form that even the most ardent opponents of centralization could live with.)
I am considering the possibility that despite ebbing and flowing excitement in the press room, the conference is progressing more or less as the Design team had hoped. Simon reminds me that in 1998, it was late in the conference before things got testy, so I am not making predictions of a placid ending, just giving my sense of where things stand.
Off to the Inclusive Church Eucharist to hear Canon Lucy Winkett preach.
Updated: Jefferts Schori is quoted in this piece on the Anglican Communion News Service:
Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, also spoke at the press conference, saying, “We are all interconnected… We spoke in the Bible studies today of creation as the body of God. All creation reflects the image of God, not just human beings… We’re gathered here to remind people that if we do not pay attention to all creation, the other things that concern us will be of no importance.”
Presiding Bishop Schori said that from the native peoples in Alaska and the Arctic Circle losing land to melting permafrost, to the poverty of Haiti worsened by climate change, to the increasing desertification of sub-Saharan Africa, “It is the poorest of this world who suffer the most from climate change already and will continue to suffer in the future.”