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LAMBETH: Bishop claims "We Are Now in Indaba"

LAMBETH: Bishop claims "We Are Now in Indaba"

By Hans Zeiger in Canterbury
July 31, 2008

CANTERBURY-A Canadian bishop announced at a Thursday press conference that the bishops at the Lambeth Conference are "now in Indaba." This follows morning Indaba group sessions on the topic of human sexuality, which according to an Australian archbishop, were more than "navel-gazing."

The Rt. Rev. Colin Johnson, Bishop of Toronto, said that a conversation was taking place in the "Indaba" discussion groups, which consist of forty bishops broken into subgroups of eight bishops. He declared that "we are continuing to engage in Indaba ... We are now in Indaba. We are really, truly talking to one another."

Johnson said that his own contribution to the conversation is that he comes from a community with "a very large lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual population, so I'm speaking that into the conversation."

More conservative voices have joined in the conversation. According to the Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean and chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, "We have expressed our convictions clearly," including convictions about the issue of polygamy in Africa. He recounted having "spoken with passion about my convictions" in his Indaba group, which was followed by a bishop of The Episcopal Church rising to announce that "we have to journey together."

The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane, also framed the events in terms of a journey. Asked whether the Indaba sessions are merely navel-gazing, he replied, "It doesn't feel like navel-gazing. It feels like significant steps are being taken with the bishops." He said that the tone of the conversation was much more civil than the discussions ten years ago surrounding Lambeth Resolution 110, which stated that marriage is between a man and a woman while committing the Anglican Communion to the "Listening Process" with gays and lesbians.

"Conversation is about turning towards another person," said Johnson. "The purpose is not to convert the other person toward my point of view or to be converted to the other person's point of view."

Indeed, according to Aspinall, "I am not aware of any bishops changing their minds" about issues of human sexuality. He summarized his own Indaba session as follows: "We haven't suddenly reached consensus."

But Johnson said that there are "probably some people who have nuanced their position."

Johnson also said that bishops have reached consensus in other important areas: "the environment, ecology, and the Millennium Development Goals," the latter of which he described as "the critical issues in our world." He said, "We felt in conversations so far that we are engaged in a common mission."


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