Thinking Anglicans

Central Florida joins in, so does Springfield

Updated Saturday morning

The Diocese of Central Florida has joined the list of American dioceses requesting “immediate alternative primatial oversight”.
See General Convention 2006:An open letter to the people and clergy of Central Florida.

In connection with this kind of thing, Jim Naughton had a note yesterday which he labelled Individuals, groups and the nature of membership.

And Fr Jake has some background on Bishop John Howe here.
Another news story, from the Orlando Sentinel Mark Pinsky Talk of split upsets some Episcopalians.

Updated
The Diocese of Springfield has also joined this list. See this report in the Living Church. There is also a pastoral letter from the bishop, which has very very stupidly been published as a 2.3 Mbyte PDF file. You have been warned.
Update Global South Anglican has published an html copy. (Thanks guys)

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Equally, a matter of orientation

Last week’s Church Times carried an article with this title. I didn’t write the title, but I did write the article. It is about the most recent proposals for further UK legislation concerning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

The Church of England response which is discussed in the article can be found here (RTF format). The press release about it is here.

The original government consultation document is a PDF file. It is here.

Gluttons for punishment can read the Anglican Mainstream response, also briefly mentioned, here. On the other hand, for a sensible discussion of some of the serious practical issues, particularly with regard to schools, the LGCM response (PDF format) is interesting reading.

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British press coverage Friday

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian expresses an opinion: Dr Williams should abolish bishops and end this missionary creep. He has a point.

The Times has some more letters to the editor.

The Church Times reports: Dr Williams spells out future for Anglicans – ‘Choose between sacrifice and separation’.
Doug LeBlanc reports on events after the General Convention in Left and right show their frustration.
And Giles Fraser mentions the Bishop of Rochester in Why I thank God for political correctness.
Most important, there is editorial opinion: Without generosity there is no future.

Update
On the BBC Today radio programme this morning, Jim Naughtie interviewed Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Listen here (Real Audio – about 7 minutes).

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New Zealand response

For immediate release
June 27, 2006

Ultimatum? What ultimatum?

Anglican Archbishops here look forward to the proposed international Anglican covenant

The Anglican Archbishops in this country welcome the prospect of contributing to the shaping of a worldwide Anglican Communion covenant on doctrine, as outlined today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

And they say that describing such a covenant as an “ultimatum” to the liberal wing of the church is a misrepresentation of his address.

Furthermore, suggestions that New Zealand’s Anglican church might find itself on the outer with the Archbishop of Canterbury is hard to imagine, says Archbishop David Moxon, one of the co-presiding bishops of the church here.

“I believe we will always be in communion with him,” says Archbishop Moxon. “And also, with this particular Archbishop of Canterbury, there’s a widespread trust in his scholarship, integrity and spirituality. Being in communion with him is a pleasure.”

The Times in England has reported a significant address by Dr Williams, which he made in response to the recent convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA). The American church had sparked concern among the worldwide Anglican Communion when it unilaterally ordained a man in a gay partnership as a bishop.

The ECUSA convention made significant concessions to the worldwide communion, including an acknowledgment that it had “strained” the communion by its actions. Even so, the American church’s moves did not satisfy Biblical conservatives, especially in some parts of Africa.

Dr Williams, in a major address, was responding to the ECUSA actions, and he suggested that a two stage “opt-in” covenant, to be developed over time by the Anglican Communion – whereby those who didn’t wish to fully subscribe to a covenant defining Biblical standards could become “associate” members of the communion, rather than full members, if they wished.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Moxon has said that the English press has gone off on the wrong foot.

“They’re assuming,” he says, “what the covenant will say” and that has yet to be shaped. Their assumptions are premature.

“There are many liberals and conservatives who trust Dr William’s scholarship and reason. He will be a key player in the wording.

“And if you look at the people, including two New Zealanders, who wrote the Windsor Report, and who suggested the covenant, there are some very deep, reflective scholars “liberal and conservative” on that group.

“They weren’t suggesting a straitjacket. They were suggesting clear claims about the Bible in coherent, contemporary terms, which we would all gather around, if we can.

“Anglicanism has only ever survived because of the genius of the wording we’ve been able to gather around, with integrity and hospitality.

“Because the classic Anglican texts, including liturgical texts, are “roomy”. We can say them, we can pray them, we can believe them – but there is also room for a reasonable variety of Christian points of view.

“Anglican Christianity has tried to say that we want a large room, of unity in diversity, which is clearly and simply described, and a covenant can do that.”

Ends

Lloyd Ashton
Media Officer to the Anglican Church
in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Phone: (09) 521-0192
Fax: (09) 528-2219
Mob: (021) 348-470
Email: mediaofficer@ang.org.nz

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afternoon reports from the Global South

First, from Abuja, Nigeria this Reuters story:
Top Nigerian has doubts about Anglican split plan. And this press release which says CANA “To provide safe harbour” and “in tradition of missionary bishops” Akinola

Second, from Sydney, Australia these reports by Linda Morris in the Sydney Morning Herald:
US church leader could not preach here: Jensen
Losing their religion
and editorial comment A battle for hearts and souls

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InclusiveChurch on the Anglican Covenant

PRESS RELEASE

Inclusive Church is grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his reaffirmation of the breadth and diversity of the Anglican tradition.

His recognition of this fundamental principle and mark of Anglicanism – the catholic, reformed and liberal strands of the Communion – offer a sound basis for our journey forward together.

But we have profound concerns about the process of agreeing any Covenant. The quick response of some of the more conservative parts of the Communion indicates that they see a Covenant more as an instrument of division than an instrument of unity.

The terms and wording of any document will need to “renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage” in the Archbishop’s words. A Covenant must therefore give value to the strands in our tradition, not excluding reason from our theological method but finding a new way of expressing the Anglican approach to the faith in today’s world.

If we are to approach the process of agreeing a Covenant with honesty and integrity we must as Provinces and local churches be willing to be open about our own present situations. Many provinces have practices which other parts of the Communion may not support. For example, the blessing of same-gender relationships happens regularly in this Province even if not officially acknowledged. There are ongoing issues around the world over the tacit acceptance of lay presidency and polygamy.

The possibility of a two-tier Communion should not therefore be seized upon as a way to exclude those who support the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church. The Church of England is in various ways very similar to the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada and many of us would hope to strengthen our links in the future. It is likely that any wording designed to exclude TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada would also exclude the Church of England.

We are also uncertain whether a Covenant would affect the unilateral activities the Windsor report hoped to end – for example the election by the Province of Nigeria of Revd Martin Minns as bishop for a missionary initiative in North America.

We have serious concerns about the way a Covenant might be applied locally in the future. Proposals before the Church of England’s General Synod for the ordination of women as bishops are specifically designed to avoid parallel jurisdictions. How can we reconcile that with the proposal to have “constituent” and “associate” members of the Communion? Is there not potential for division even at Deanery level?

Ultimately we believe that we are already brought together by the covenant of Baptism. An Anglican Covenant, to reaffirm the bonds of unity for our Communion, will have to reflect the essential inclusiveness of the Baptismal Covenant.

Revd Dr. Giles Fraser, President, InclusiveChurch
Revd Giles Goddard, Chair, InclusiveChurch 07762 373 674

office@inclusivechurch.net
www.inclusivechurch.net

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early analyses of ECUSA events

Jim Naughton has had further thoughts since yesterday, see Hmm. Maybe this is what I was missing. Read it all, but here are some quotes:

I think Dr. Williams release yesterday of a reflection on the future of the Anglican Communion, and his outlining of a two-tiered membership system was intended to head all of this off. Obviously it didn’t…

…This isn’t what good faith looks like.

This game may be played at levels I can’t discern, but I can’t imagine that Rowan Williams welcomes this initiative. Thirty-six hours ago, he laid out a comprehensive plan to re-form the government of the communion. This evening, despite media reports that they were ‘elated’ with his proposal, American conservatives have attempted to undermine it by issuing a very public appeal for Williams to insert himself into the internal affairs of a member province without that province”s consent. That can’t be the manner in which he hoped this process would begin. But I don’t know whether it is his way to voice the displeasure he might be feeling…

…In addition to undermining Williams’ efforts to achieve ‘the highest degree of communion possible despite our differences,’ the concerted actions undertaken today also present a challenge to the Episcopal Church. The primary question being: should we respond in kind? There are ample grounds for presentments against any number of prominent conservatives, but it strikes me that Bishop Duncan in particular is eager to be presented, and that pursuing a presentment simply hands him a bigger megaphone.

On the other hand, there are parishes in the dioceses seeking alternate oversight that want to remain loyal to the Episcopal Church. (I am most familiar with the numbers in Pittsburgh where about 12 or 13 parishes, including some large ones, have opted out of Duncan’s conservative Network.) How much longer do we allow these folks to languish? How do we assure their continuing membership in the Episcopal Church under Episcopal Church leadership as their dioceses pursue separation?…

Fr Jake has a rather different view, see ABC Gives Green Light, and They’re Off! The blog comments are also interesting. Again some quotes:

It appears that Archbishop Akinola, not satified with the Kingdom of Nigeria, has moved into the greener pastures of North America. His henchman on this shore will be none other than Marty Minns, formerly rector in Truro, Va., and well known extremist.

And so the plan, revealed to us some years ago, finally comes to fruition, only one day after the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement that was interpreted as giving the extremists a nod of approval for launching their plan…

…Well, now we have Marty Minns elected as Bishop of this attempted end run around the Windsor Report. The absurd thing is that those bishops begging for ALPO (Alternative Primatial Oversight) which are currently Fort Worth, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin, fancy themselves as “Windsor Bishops.” How much you want to bet the Primate they ask for is Peter Akinola? And then, of course, they will eventually attempt to move their entire diocese over to CANA, where their bud Marty will be waiting for them.

Thank you, Dr. Williams, for giving the green light for this drag race to destruction to commence. And please don’t act surprised; the plan has been quite clear, easily accessible to everyone, for many years now.

Or maybe neither of these is correct.

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news reports on ECUSA

updated

Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopal Feud Over Gay Bishops Widens and earlier version.

New York Times Tina Kelly Gay Episcopal Priest Named as Possible Newark Bishop
and Neela Banerjee Three Dioceses Appeal to Distance Themselves From Episcopal Church

PIttsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Pittsburgh Episcopalians seek separate conservative jurisdiction

Washington Times Julia Duin Virginia churches plan diocese exit

San Franciso Chronicle Matthai Chakko Kuruvila 4 Episcopal dioceses want out of church

Newark Star-Ledger Jeff Diamant Gay priest in running to lead Newark Episcopalians

Charleston Post and Courier Michael Gartland Episcopal diocese takes step toward split

Episcopal News Service ‘Alternative primatial oversight’ requested by three standing committees Virginia priest elected by Church of Nigeria to serve in North America

Living Church
Pittsburgh Seeks Alternative Primatial Oversight, Tenth Province
Canon Minns Elected Missionary Bishop for Church of Nigeria
South Carolina and San Joaquin Also Seek Alternative Oversight

BBC New row looms over US gay bishops

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Thursday newspapers on RW's Reflection

Updated Thursday afternoon

Before we return to the American war zone, whose news came too late in Britain to get more than this NIB in The Times, there is a comment article in today’s Guardian:
Andrew Brown The archbishop, we can only deduce, is a humanist mole

And Colin Slee had a letter published in The Times under this headline: Communion not Empire: the future of Anglicanism.

Meanwhile in Australia, Archbishop Peter Jensen gave his opinion: Two-tier Anglican church absurd: Jensen in the Sydney Morning Herald and Anglican church split won’t affect Australia: Archbishop on ABC.

updated to add
Andrew Carey has this analysis in tomorrow’s Church of England Newspaper Analysis: Facing a two-speed Communion? There is also this news report there.

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Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Newark, San Joaquin in the news

Revised

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for “alternative primatial oversight”. Read the full press release at Standing Committee Requests “Alternative Primatial Oversight”; Envisions Tenth Province Within Episcopal Church.

Pittsburgh, unlike Fort Worth and some others, is not a diocese that restricts the ministry of women as priests.

The Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold has commented:

I find the action by the Standing Committee and Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh unsurprising and altogether consistent with their implicit intention of walking apart from the Episcopal Church. The urgency of their appeal indicates an unwillingness to be part of the process of formulating a covenant so clearly set forth in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflection. I would very much hope that they would remain part of the Episcopal Church as we, along with the other provinces of the Communion, explore our Anglican identity – as the Archbishop has invited us to do.

The Diocese of South Carolina has also announced an appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternative primatial oversight. Read their statement here.

The Diocese of Newark has announced its list of candidates for election of the next diocesan bishop. Read the full press release about this here. Here is the ENS press release.

The list includes Michael Barlowe and does not include Tracey Lind, who withdrew her name from consideration. The American Anglican Council remains outraged though.

The Diocese of San Joaquin has also appealed for alternative primatial oversight. Their statement is here.

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more reactions to Rowan Williams' Reflection

Updated Thursday

For earlier items see this list.

Jim Naughton has more thoughts: Am I missing something?.

Commonweal magazine’s blog has Principle of subsidiarity?

Frank Griswold has issued this:

I am greatly encouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s timely call to the provinces of the Anglican Communion to join together in exploring our Anglican identity. I am one with him in his desire to develop a covenant capable of expressing that identity amidst the complexities of the world in which we live. I believe it is possible for us hold up a renewed vision of what it means to be Anglican Christians.

The Archbishop has helpfully raised up in his text the constituent elements of classical Anglicanism, namely the priority of the Bible in matters of doctrine, the Catholic sacramental tradition and a “habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly.” This both reminds us of the tradition that has formed us and points us to the future.

The conclusion of this lengthy process is now unknown. Therefore is it misleading that some, in responding to the Archbishop’s lengthy theological reflection, have focused their attention on speculations about a yet-to-be determined outcome. And, as we enter into that process of discernment, we must never forget that God can always surprise us, and that the church is not our possession but is an instrument of God’s reconciling love in the world.

Mark Harris has had further thoughts: Second Look at the Archbishop’s Reflection

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Nigeria elects Minns as bishop

Press release from the Church of Nigeria: For Immediate Release: ELECTION OF BISHOPS:

…The Rev Canon Martyn Minns of Truro Parish in Virginia, USA was also elected Bishop in the Church of Nigeria for the missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria called Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA)…

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some group and personal reactions

Updated

In no particular order:

Anglican Communion Network

Anglican Communion Institute

American Anglican Council

Kendall Harmon

Affirming Catholicism UK see below the fold (now on the web here)

Tobias Haller

Mark Harris

Fr Jake

Jim Naughton

Archbishop of Sydney

Update
The Archbishop of Cape Town

Updated again
Matthew Thompson on PoliticalSpaghetti first re Archbishop Akinola, and second re Bishop Duncan.

(more…)

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Wednesday press reactions

Guardian
Stephen Bates Williams admits church faces split over gay bishops (includes comments from the Primate of Canada)

Telegraph
Jonathan Petre Williams sets out his blueprint for twin-track Church and
editorial comment in Inside the Anglican shell

The Times
Ruth Gledhill Gay clergy ultimatum set to split Anglicans and
editorial comment in The Lambeth walk.

Associated Press
Robert Barr Anglican leader suggests two-tiered fellowship system
earlier report:
Leader of Anglicans Urges Coexistence

Religion News Service
Daniel Burke Williams Lays Out Two-Tier Membership for Anglicans

New York Times
Laurie Goodstein and Neela Banerjee Anglican Plan Threatens Split on Gay Issues

Washington Post
Alan Cooperman Head of Anglicans Seeks End to Divisions on Gay Clergy

Reuters
Kate Kelland Anglican leader sees church split over gay bishops

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Reaction to Williams statement

Press reaction is mostly focused on the potential for a split in Anglicanism. Some examples:

BBC Archbishop raises idea of split

The Telegraph has Archbishop of Canterbury plans Anglican split

The worldwide Anglican Communion could be divided into “associated” and “constituent” provinces in an attempt to resolve the impasse over homosexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Ruth Gledhill in The Times goes further, singling out the American Church as a target for exclusion:

in The Times: Worldwide Anglican church facing split over gay bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined proposals that are expected to lead to the exclusion of The Episcopal Church of the United States from the Anglican Church as a consequence of consecrating a gay bishop.

and in her blog, Gledhill writes: an ABC of schism

Never again can anyone accuse him of failing to give leadership, or of not speaking plainly. … The thrust of the letter, an intense and passionate theological teaching document for any who are prepared to listen, seems to be that episcopalians in the US and anywhere else who are unwilling to sign up to a covenant setting out Anglicanism in its orthodox and traditional, biblical form will be consigned to “associate” status. They will no longer be full Anglicans.

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full text of Rowan Williams' reflection

The full text of The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion can be found on the ACNS website, and also on the Lambeth Palace site here.

The audio version can be found here (about 6.3 Mbytes mp3 format).

For press release, see TA item immediately below this one.

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Rowan Williams speaks about the Communion

For immediate Use
27th June 2006
Press release from Lambeth Palace Link to ACNS copy Lambeth Palace copy does not render correctly in Firefox problem now fixed, Lambeth copy here.

Archbishop – ‘Challenge and hope’ for the Anglican Communion

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has set out his thinking on the future of the Anglican Communion in the wake of the deliberations in the United States on the Windsor Report and the Anglican Communion at the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (USA). ‘The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today, A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion’, has been sent to Primates with a covering letter, published more widely and made available as audio on the internet. In it, Dr Williams says that the strength of the Anglican tradition has been in maintaining a balance between the absolute priority of the Bible, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility:

“To accept that each of these has a place in the church’s life and that they need each other means that the enthusiasts for each aspect have to be prepared to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices. The only reason for being an Anglican is that this balance seems to you to be healthy for the Church Catholic”

Dr Williams acknowledges that the debate following the consecration of a practising gay bishop has posed challenges for the unity of the church. He stresses that the key issue now for the church is not about the human rights of homosexual people, but about how the church makes decisions in a responsible way.

“It is imperative to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation…”

The debate in the Anglican Communion had for many, he says, become much harder after the consecration in 2003 which could be seen to have pre-empted the outcome. The structures of the Communion had struggled to cope with the resulting effects:

“… whatever the presenting issue, no member Church can make significant decisions unilaterally and still expect this to make no difference to how it is regarded in the fellowship; this would be uncomfortably like saying that every member could redefine the terms of belonging as and when it suited them. Some actions – and sacramental actions in particular – just do have the effect of putting a Church outside or even across the central stream of the life they have shared with other Churches.”

Dr Williams says that the divisions run through as well as between the different Provinces of the Anglican Communion and this would make a solution difficult. He favours the exploration of a formal Covenant agreement between the Provinces of the Anglican Communion as providing a possible way forward. Under such a scheme, member provinces that chose to would make a formal but voluntary commitment to each other.

“Those churches that were prepared to take this on as an expression of their responsibility to each other would limit their local freedoms for the sake of a wider witness: some might not be willing to do this. We could arrive at a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion and not sharing the same constitutional structures”.

Different views within a province might mean that local churches had to consider what kind of relationship they wanted with each other. This, though, might lead to a more positive understanding of unity:

“It could mean the need for local Churches to work at ordered and mutually respectful separation between constituent and associated elements; but it could also mean a positive challenge for churches to work out what they believed to be involved in belonging in a global sacramental fellowship, a chance to rediscover a positive common obedience to the mystery of God’s gift that was not a matter of coercion from above but that of ‘waiting for each other’ that St Paul commends to the Corinthians.”

Dr Williams stresses that the matter cannot be resolved by his decree:

” … the idea of an Archbishop of Canterbury resolving any of this by decree is misplaced, however tempting for many. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides and convenes in the Communion, and may … outline the theological framework in which a problem should be addressed; but he must always act collegially, with the bishops of his own local Church and with the primates and the other instruments of communion.”
“That is why the process currently going forward of assessing our situation in the wake of the General Convention is a shared one. But it is nonetheless possible for the Churches of the Communion to decide that this is indeed the identity, the living tradition – and by God’s grace, the gift – we want to share with the rest of the Christian world in the coming generation; more importantly still, that this is a valid and vital way of presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. My hope is that the period ahead – of detailed response to the work of General Convention, exploration of new structures, and further refinement of the covenant model – will renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage so that we can pursue our mission with deeper confidence and harmony.”

The Primates of the Anglican Communion will meet early next year to consider the matter. In the meantime, a group appointed by the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates will be assisting Dr Williams in considering the resolutions of the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (USA) in response to the questions posed by the Windsor Report.
ENDS

(more…)

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Kunonga: more about that Lambeth statement

Earlier this month, the Sunday Times reported that Lambeth Palace had issued a statement about Bishop Kunonga.

The Church of England Newspaper had a report last week, Call for Zimbabwe Bishop to step down which gives further details:

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury has called upon Zimbabwe’s Bishop Nolbert Kunonga to step down, pressing the Central African church to adjudicate misconduct charges brought against the controversial Bishop of Harare. A statement released on behalf of the Archbishop by Lambeth Palace notes that: “In the context of a prolonged and political crisis, the diocese of Harare faces intolerable strain in the form of the very grave and unresolved accusations against Bishop Kunonga.

“The primary way forward is by dealing with these charges through the church courts in the Anglican Province of Central Africa, but this process has been aborted and the matter is unresolved.” The statement went on: “In other jurisdictions, a priest or bishop facing such serious charges would be suspended without prejudice until the case had been closed. It is therefore very difficult for Bishop Kunonga to be regarded as capable of functioning as a bishop elsewhere in the communion.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has pressed the authorities of the Province to bring the case to a conclusion in a way consistent with justice, transparency and truth, so that the damage to the health and credibility of the church can be addressed,” the statement read. Members of the Central African House of Bishops were caught unawares by the announcement from Lambeth Palace. Speaking to The Church of England Newspaper at the US General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, Bishop Trevor Mwanda of Botswana stated he had not seen the statement and declined to comment, noting that the Kunonga affair was under close scrutiny by the Central African bishops…

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Monday in London

Two daily newspapers have published articles criticising the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In The Times Tim Hames wrote Beware the folly of clever men in power.

And in the Guardian Michael Hampson wrote The American way puts the Church of England to shame.

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yet more comment on General Convention

On the Anglican Communion Institute website, Andrew Goddard has analysed the GC resolutions for their compliance with the Windsor Report.

At The Witness Gene Robinson has written An Open Letter to my LGBT Brothers and Sisters.

Jim Naughton had his review of the Sunday websites.

And Nick Knisely has a whole series of thoughtful posts on his blog Entangled States.

So also does Fr Jake at his blog.

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