The Archbishop of Cowardice
Here is the news story from Episcopal Life Online.
Bishop Robinson, of course, is the “gay bishop” that many conservative Anglicans, most of them in Africa, are upset about. Archbishop Williams has caved in to their demands that Robinson be excluded from this gathering of bishops, despite Williams’ acknowledgement that Robinson is a duly elected and consecrated bishop.
By submitting to the exclusionary demands of the conservative homophobes, Archbishop Williams has become one of them.
Here is the statement from Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire (May 22, 2007):
It is with great disappointment that I receive word from the Archbishop of Canterbury that I will not be included in the invitation list for the Lambeth Conference, 2008. At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a “listening process” on the issue of homosexuality, it makes no sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from that conversation. It is time that the Bishops of the Anglican Communion stop talking about gay and lesbian people and start talking with us.
While I appreciate the acknowledgement that I am a duly elected and consecrated Bishop of the Church, the refusal to include me among all the other duly elected and consecrated Bishops of the Church is an affront to the entire Episcopal Church. This is not about Gene Robinson, nor the Diocese of New Hampshire. It is about the American Church and its relationship to the Communion. It is for The Episcopal Church to respond to this challenge, and in due time, I assume we will do so. In the meantime, I will pray for Archbishop Rowan and our beloved Anglican Communion.
Bishop Robinson responded much more graciously than I would have (one of many, many reasons why he is a bishop and I’m not). I find myself struggling on a regular basis with whether or not I truly fit in with the established Episcopal Church. But I have to remind myself that the Episcopal Church is an autonomous member of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not an Episcopalian. The Episcopal Church has shown that it is willing to embrace inclusivity by refusing to cave in to the demands of the conservative Anglican bishops who wanted us to “apologize” for having a gay Bishop, and for electing a female Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who speaks up proudly in favor of gay and lesbian inclusion.
The two Episcopal parishes of which I’ve been a member – St. Luke’s in Atlanta for eleven years, and now St. James in Marietta – have been extremely welcoming to me and other gay and lesbian members. St. Luke’s was a safe haven for me to come out of the closet as a frightened fundamentalist 14 years ago, and today St. James provides me with a nurturing and caring community of faith and healing.
The time may come for the Episcopal Church to leave the increasingly-irrelevant Anglican Communion. This latest act of cowardice from the Archbishop of Canterbury may make that step a lot easier.