Rowan Williams backtracks on gay bishop snub
The Archbishop of Canterbury is reconsidering his decision to exclude an openly gay bishop from next year’s Lambeth Conference.
Many Anglicans wrote letters of complaint to the Archbishop about the exclusion of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
A response from Canon Flora Winfield from the International, Ecumenical and Anglican Communion Affairs, leaked to The Times, revealed that Archbishop Williams is now “exploring” whether to invite Bishop Robinson.
“Archbishop Rowan noted carefully the level of disappointment expressed by correspondents, following his decision not to extend an invitation to Bishop Gene Robinson to attend the Lambeth Conference along with the other bishops,” wrote Canon Winfield.
“He stressed in his letter to the bishops that he did not take this decision lightly, but that he regarded it as appropriate … the Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status.”
That would involve Bishop Robinson attending but not voting at the 14th Lambeth Conference, the assembly of Anglican bishops held once every ten years.
It will take place between 16th July and 4th August 2008 in Canterbury.
Conservative and liberal branches of the worldwide Anglican communion have been at loggerheads over the issues of homosexuality and same-sex unions ever since Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was ordained as a bishop in the US in 2003.
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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is spiritual head of the Anglican church worldwide.
He indicated last year that he did not want to discuss human sexuality issues at the conference, emphasising training matters instead.
In April the Archbishop said he even considered cancelling the Lambeth conference to avoid a schism.
“Yes, we’ve already been considering that and the answer is no,” he told the Anglican Church of Canada’s Anglican Journal.
“We’ve been looking at whether the timing is right, but if we wait for the ideal time, we will wait more than just 18 months,” he added.
The decision not to invite Bishop Robinson comes amid more splits in the American Anglican church, known as Episcopalians, over his ordination and the decision by some congregations to bless same-sex unions.