IRISH NOTES Continued
NEWRY, Northern Ireland
By David W. Virtue
It's over. This gathering of 35 Primates, with its extraordinary agenda, meeting at the Dromantine Center to weigh the implications of the Windsor Report, drew to a close with a press conference at the retreat itself early Friday afternoon.
Some fifty press including print, radio, TV and Internet gathered at the center to confront the Primates on the conclusions of the Communiqué issued early yesterday following my "prematurely" released story that prompted the immediate release of the communiqué by more than 24 hours. The press conference was moved forward from 5.30pm to 2.30pm.
Significantly missing at the press conference was US Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, the bishop on the hot seat, who had left the center for personal reasons the previous night.
VirtueOnline learned today from reputable sources that Griswold and Rowan Williams had an altercation the night before, after the communiqué had been released. He accused Williams of being an ineffective leader of the communion.
It is generally assumed that Griswold left angry that Williams was not supportive of the Episcopal Church's newly developed doctrine of sexuality. The ECUSA believes it has something to share with the world prophetically about the nature and purpose of sexuality - a view that God has not apparently endorsed at this time, since the majority of the Primates remain against it.
THE "PREMATURE" release of my story provoked anger and frustration, ironically amongst those whom I am honored enough to call my friends. Several felt that I was interfering with the process and hurting deliberations.
It was revealed at the press conference by Australian Primate Peter Carnley that the communiqué was written long before I put out my story, and thus I pre-empted nothing. There was a beneficial side effect. My story resulted in the early release of the communiqué which all the press present was most grateful, for many had early deadlines for their newspapers and television viewers.
Another objection raised was that VirtueOnline, by the release of my exclusive story prevented possible action by the orthodox primates in their deliberations with the liberals. The truth is that they had finished that part of the agenda and were into other subjects namely the spread of HIV/AIDS and theological education.
I must however admit that there were some minor errors in my exclusive story which were not my fault but were the result in the careful use of my sources and my inability to interpret the voice of a certain Primate on the telephone.
I had written that there would a deadline and "divorce" in three months - at the end of May if matters were not resolved between the two groups of primates. This was a misunderstanding of the times and dates the Primates have set for a final conclusion of the matter.
If you add three months to the three years from March 1 then that will take you to the June 2008 Lambeth Conference. The ECUSA and the Canadians must address these issues in their respective House of Bishops and come up with acceptance of the Windsor Report in order to escape the three year "suspension". Those 3 months were also timed for the reception of the Windsor Report by the Anglican Consultative Council. They were also part of the plan of the archbishops who met recently in Africa to plan their strategy. And the suspension has begun. The cut off point is the Lambeth Conference. They will not be invited to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 unless they express regret (repentance!). That three months now has been let go.
When I spoke to Nassau Archbishop Drexel Gomez at the conclusion of the press conference he told me very clearly and explicitly that the Episcopal Church had till June of 2006 when their next General Convention meets to come up with an adequate response to the Windsor Report or face exclusion from the Lambeth Conference of 2008.
AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE FOUR PRIMATES were on a panel with a fifth, Archbishop Robin Eames, acting as the chairman. The four primates - two orthodox and two liberals: Drexel Gomez (Nassau and the Bahamas) Henry Luke Orombi (Uganda), Rowan Williams, (Archbishop of Canterbury) and Peter Carnley (Australia).
The questions were direct and to the point and I have covered them in a separate story that you can read at the website. www.virtueonline.org.
I was given an opportunity to ask a question - a rare event as I was denied the opportunity in London at the unveiling of the Windsor Report in St. Paul's cathedral. I asked what cover and protection the Primates would continue to offer orthodox parishes caught in revisionist ECUSA dioceses.
Archbishop Williams referred me to the communiqué which said he is going to ensure that proper and adequate pastoral care is extended to such parishes. (Par. 15) "In order to protect groups in dispute with their bishop or dioceses in dispute with their provinces Dr. Williams would appoint a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions."
Archbishop Gomez later emphasized that he believed that this provision would be more than adequate to meet American needs.
Later in answer to a related question the Archbishop of Uganda stated that overseas primates would continue to provide pastoral care to the parishes currently under their oversight, but that they would not take on any new ones IF this projected provision worked well.
This was met by some skepticism by me. Over the course of the last few years this problem has escalated to the point that several orthodox parishes are in litigation with revisionist bishops, and I see no reason to think that this will suddenly diminish or disappear.
A case in point is this week's announcement by Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison that he would pursue legal action to take back three parishes in his diocese that have left the Episcopal Church USA.
Later in the press conference I began to ask a question but Archbishop Eames cut me off.
Here is the question. Is it true that on the agenda and in the conference there was no public Eucharist arranged for all the primates? The communiqué stated that there was common prayer and worship but it nowhere states that there was a common Eucharist for all. I have developed this more fully in my story KOINONIA BUT NO COMMON EUCHARIST which is at the website. www.virtueonline.org.
I am not sure whether it is tonight or tomorrow that a large group of Primates is being hosted by several orthodox leaders of the ECUSA. I wish them a happy occasion. Regrettably I am not able to attend as I have been called away to a laptop and later as a guest of the Evangelical Fellowship of Ireland.
For more stories on the Anglican Communion go to www.virtueonline.org. VirtueOnline is the Communion's largest orthodox Anglican Online News Service. You may receive a weekly FREE digest of stories by signing up at the website.
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