By Jim Naughton
While we are as eager for eyeballs as the next Web site, we’ve decided that uninteresting statements do not become interesting for being uttered in the context of the Lambeth Conference. So we won’t be filing a report after every press conference, or attempting to read significance into statements made by people who will have no influence over whatever word the bishops assembled for the conference decide to speak.
It seems likely, however, that there will be news worth noting after the conclusion of the 2 pm “hearings” at which the Windsor Continuation Group will discuss the third part of its “report.” I am using quotes not to disparage the document, but simply to remind readers that it is more along the lines of bullet points and observations than a proper text. I expect that the group, composed entirely of opponents of gay ordination, will urge the Episcopal Church to continue its de facto ban on the consecration of gay bishops. I don’t know how the Episcopal Church’s bishops will respond either in the moment or later in the week when the bishops convene for additional hearings.
(At this point it may be worth pointing out that the bishops do not have the authority to speak for the Church on this issue of gay ordination. That power belongs to our General Convention. However, because a majority of diocesan bishops must assent to the election of any bishop, the bishops can effectively bar gay candidates from the episcopacy.)
I am unsure how the Episcopal Church’s bishops will respond because they arrived at the conference determined not to commit news, and thus far they have maintained their discipline.
The primate of Sudan said: “Gene Robinson must resign.” The Episcopalians said: “Let’s continue to work together.”
The Windsor Continuation Group said: “We must save the Communion from your innovations.” The Episcopalians said: “Can you say a little more about that?”
If the group of conservative bishops who met secretly during the conference demanded that the men and women who consecrated Robinson be cast upon a trash heap, one has the impression the Episcopalians would ask for nothing more than an opportunity to change clothes.
Whether this strategy will successfully keep temperatures at Lambeth below the boiling point, and whether it will be effective if the bishops here unite behind a ban on gay bishops, I can’t say, but it has done much to counter the widespread impression that all Americans are President Bush.