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ENGLAND: Five million quid down the drain as Lambeth Conference ends

ENGLAND: Five million quid down the drain as Lambeth Conference ends

by Damian Thompson
The Telegraph
8/7/2008

Well, that was a waste of everyone's time. The Archbishop of Canterbury's spin doctors may pretend that the £5 million Lambeth Conference was an unexpected success because the 650 bishops didn't actually come to blows. Oh, please.

Was the Lambeth Conference really a success?

I'll tell you what was an unexpected success: the Gafcon meeting of anti-gay conservatives in Jerusalem, which managed to keep well within the boundaries of the Anglican Communion even though 230 of its bishops boycotted Lambeth.

Gafcon put the wind up the Lambeth bishops so thoroughly that most of them were more than happy to shift the blame for the troubles of the Anglican Communion on to gay-ordaining American Episcopalians. And, in the absence of votes, they didn't have to put their hands up in order to do so. They just vaguely assented to a smorgasbord of "structures" dreamt up by Rowan and his allies which are targeted at liberals but which will take years to come into force - by which time the Episcopal Church will be marrying and consecrating every gay and lesbian it can lay its hands on.

Rowan's cheerleaders were ready to declare the conference a triumph of statesmanship when Jonathan Wynne-Jones broke the story in the Sunday Telegraph that two senior bishops - Winchester and Exeter - were asking Dr Williams to organise a peaceful separation between the "core Communion" and the liberal fringe. Indeed, Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester explicitly said that Rowan's "covenant" scheme was unlikely to work.

Later on Sunday, Ruth Gledhill of the Times reported on her blog that "whispers of discontent" about Dr Williams were circulating among Church of England bishops. She talked about a "photogenic youngish evangelical" being talked up as a possible successor. That strikes me as an excessively flattering description of James Jones of Liverpool, but he's ambitious enough, that's for sure.

More "successes" at Lambeth: Cardinal Walter Kasper, normally keen on observing ecumenical niceties, dropped in to announce that any hope of Rome ever recognising Anglican orders was now extinguished.

And then there's the bill: £5 million, of which the Anglican Communion is probably going to have to borrow over £1 million from the Church Commissioners. And nothing to show for it.

---Damian Thompson is a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph and editor-in-chief of a major Catholic newspaper.

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