The press reads The Letter

Reporters had their hands full yesterday trying to figure out how to pull a “lede” out of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter about the state of the Anglican Communion. He dumped cold water on everybody, so how to determine which side was wetter?

Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times played it this way:

The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, sent a lengthy letter to the members of his warring Anglican Communion on Friday, saying that both sides had violated the Communion’s boundaries and put the church in crisis.

He criticized the American branch, the Episcopal Church, for departing from the Communion’s consensus on Scripture by ordaining an openly gay bishop and blessing same-sex unions, “in the name of the church.”

But the archbishop faulted conservative prelates in Africa, Asia and Latin America for annexing American parishes and an entire California diocese that have recently left the Episcopal Church, and for ordaining conservative Americans as bishops and priests.

Read it all.

Tom Heneghan of Reuters took a similar tack in his story headlined “No Anglican consensus.”

Steve Bates of the Guardian, filling in for his successor, emphasized Williams’ criticism of conservatives, while Ruth Gledhill looked at the other side of the coin. [Added: The unabridged version of Bates’ article is here.]

Robert Barr of the Associated Press, meanwhile, focused on Williams’ reiteration of his decision not to invite Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to the Lambeth Conference.

Jonathan Petre of the Telegraph began with the warning that bishops who boycott the Lambeth conference could be excluded from senior counsels of the church.

Rebecca Trounson of the Los Angeles Times focused on the archbishop’s call for mediation in view of the lack of consensus in the communion.

One thing I’ve picked up in conversations with reporters is how weary they are of covering this story, and what a difficult time they have in determining the significance of any given event. Many of them fervently wish the story would go away.

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3 Comments
  1. bill bonwitt

    Jim

    Reporters are not the only ones who wish this story would go away.

    You wrote “He dumped cold water on everybody, so how to determine which side was wetter?”

    The only way he can dump water on us – TEC – is if we keep standing under/near him. Over 200 years ago the United States ‘separated’ from Britain — perhaps it is time the Church did the same.

    Bill Bonwitt

  2. John B. Chilton

    An excerpt from the extended version of the Bates’ article:

    Lambeth Palace did not publicly criticise Bishop Venables until this week. One senior insider at the Palace told the Guardian that the idea that Dr Williams supported the move was complete nonsense.There are signs of divisions between senior members of the archbishop’s staff and frustration over his perceived dithering. As the message makes clear that Bishop Robinson will not be invited to next year’s conference either, the official said it contained “something to annoy everyone.”

  3. Nicholas Knisely

    I saw that quote John and I found it interesting too.

    I was also interested to read in the Bates’ article that the letter as we have it was drafted and polished by a number of people on the Archbishop’s staff rather than just by him. Perhaps that explains some of the difficulty in teasing out an overall message.

    The letter is a committee document and the committee was not of one mind.

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