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Calls to postpone Lambeth: CEN 10.12.07 p 1. October 10, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CAPA, Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008.

The Anglican Archbishops of Africa have backed Nigeria’s call to postpone the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and have pleaded with the Archbishop of Canterbury to call a special meeting of the primates to avert the impending collapse of the Anglican Communion.

And this week a leading Church of England Bishop warned that if the current arrangements stand, he will find it difficult to attend the 10-yearly meeting of Bishops.In a statement released following the Oct 3-5 meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) in Mauritius, the Archbishops acknowledged Dr. Williams’ concerns that postponing Lambeth would be “costly”, but said the alternatives were far worse.

“A divided conference with several provinces unable to participate and hundreds of bishops absent would be much more costly to our life and witness. It would bring an end to the Communion, as we know it,” they said.

Postponing Lambeth would allow “tensions to subside” and permit space for the “hard work of reconciliation.” It would also ensure that a common mind would have been reached on the proposed Anglican Covenant before the meeting took place.

Last month in New Orleans, Dr. Williams said he was not persuaded that a delay of Lambeth was necessary. He had to “keep faith” with the conference organizers and with the minority of bishops who were not concerned with the crisis of faith and order dividing the Communion.

However, the African church stated that a “change of direction from our current trajectory is urgently needed” for the Communion to survive.

The African archbishops said they were willing to work with the “instruments of unity” to resolve the “current impasse that confronts us.”

However “we have spent the last ten years in a series of meetings, issuing numerous communiqués, setting deadlines and yet we have made little progress.”

A Lambeth Conference that papers over the widening cracks in the Communion would serve no one, they argued. “We want unity but not unity at any expense,” they said.

Their call coincides with an admission by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, that he would not be able to attend Lambeth if the liberal US bishops who appointed Gene Robinson were invited.

Responding to a question on the issue after delivering the fifth Chavasse lecture at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “There are churches and bishops who were requested, there were pleas to them by everyone from every quarter, not to do what the whole Communion had said was contrary to God’s purpose.”

“They went ahead and did it. Now the intention is to have those bishops at the Lambeth Conference, and the person consecrated also. Under such circumstances, and as matters stand, I could not go. We have to state at a particular time what is the gospel’s judgment in a particular situation.”

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, said he backed Bishop Nazir-Ali. He said: “I agree with the Bishop of Rochester about both the need for greater clarity about the purpose and nature of next summer’s gathering.”

He added he was concerned about the possibility the Conference could make Gene Robinson a scapegoat, “rather than focusing on the action of those who, through their decision to act in disregard of the pleas and mind of the rest of the Anglican Communion, precipitated this crisis.”

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