Saturday, 22 September 2007

Rowan Williams: no lawyer!

I'm not a fan of lawyers (sorry!), but if I wanted one, I'm not sure I'd turn to Rowan Williams. In the course of his current meetings with the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the USA, Archbishop Rowan made the following remarks about the Dar es Salaam Communique (issued in February):

“Despite what has been claimed, there is no “ultimatum” involved. The Primates asked for a response by September 30 simply because we were aware that this was the meeting of the House likely to be formulating such a response. The ACC and Primates Joint Standing Committee will be reading and digesting what the bishops have to say, and will let me know their thoughts on it early next week. After this I shall be sharing what they say, along with my own assessments, with the Primates and others, inviting their advice in the next couple of weeks. I hope these days will result in a constructive and fresh way forward for all of us.”

But let's go back and look at what the Communique actually said regarding the need for The Episcopal Church to 'clarify' its responses to the Windsor Report:

“The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.

“If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.”

If I were a lawyer, I would note that the Communique says specifically that the answer OF the House of Bishops should be conveyed TO the Primates, BY the Presiding Bishop BY September 30th.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, however, seems to have reconstructed this as follows:
The answer OF the House of Bishops is to be conveyed BY the House of Bishops, BY September 30th, TO the ACC and Primates' Joint Standing Committee, TO Rowan Williams, TO the other Primates and others, after which an evaluation will presented TO Rowan Williams BY them, following which an evaluation will be made, presumably BY Rowan Williams, following which something else may happen. Or not.
Well, it may just be me, but if I were one of the Dar es Salaam Primates I would be rubbing my eyes and asking if that is quite what we all signed up to at the end of that particular meeting. And if it isn't, I'd be asking who made the decision to change it, and on what authority?

Revd John P Richardson

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1 comment:

  1. "Rowan Williams: no lawyer!"

    That could just as accurately be headlined:

    "Rowan Williams: no exegete!"

    which is arguably more of a problem.

    Timothy Edwards, East London