Archbishop’s Summer Plans May Preclude Meeting With Bishops
by George Conger
In a March 21 interview, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that while she and Archbishop Williams were together during the February primates meeting, she had invited him to visit the United States this year. She said he declined the invitation at that time, citing the press of other business and a full calendar. She added that she hoped he would reconsider the invitation in light of the House of Bishopsâ€™ formal request for a meeting. No decision on this second invitation has been made, a spokesman for the archbishop said, but he said it was under consideration.
While the prospects for a U.S., trip this year appear problematic, observers note that an emergency primatesâ€™ meeting, similar to the one in London called by Archbishop Williams in 2003, is likely to be held later this year in order to consider the response requested from the House of Bishops in the primatesâ€™ communiquÃ©.
In a letter to his diocese, the Bishop of Northern Michigan, the Rt. Rev. James Kelsey, recounted a meeting between Archbishop Williams and American bishops attending last month’s TEAM Conference in South Africa.
â€œWhen asked what would happen after the Sept. 30 deadline set by the primatesâ€™ communiquÃ©, and who would decide about the adequacy of the response of The Episcopal Church to its demands, Rowan Williams responded that it would not be he who would decide since, as he said, â€˜Iâ€™m not a pope; thatâ€™s not how our system works… Iâ€™ll take it to the primates, and they will decideâ€™.â€
Since the release of the primatesâ€™ communiquÃ©, members of Archbishop Williamsâ€™ staff report a significant increase in the amount of correspondence sent to Archbishop Williams by grass-roots members of The Episcopal Church. While the correspondents represents a diversity of views on the issues currently dividing the Anglican Communion, many of the notes and letters express pain and surprise upon learning of the tenuous position of The Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion at present.
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