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Archbishop of Canterbury responds to oversight proposal
Other church leaders join in voicing views

12/1/2006

Archbishop Rowan Williams  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Archbishop of Canterbury said December 1 that he is "glad to see" that a "meeting in New York to consider the questions raised by requests for 'alternative primatial oversight' has produced some imaginative proposals which represent, potentially, a very significant development.

"I am glad to see these positive suggestions and shall be giving them careful consideration," Dr. Rowan Williams said in a statement. "I hope that they will mark a step forward in the long and difficult process of working out future relationships within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in a manner faithful to the gospel requirements of forebearance and generosity."

Williams' statement came a day after a group of bishops, including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, announced that it had developed a proposal responding to "An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury" addressing what other petitioning bishops and dioceses have termed "alternative primatial oversight" or "alternative primatial relationship."

Full texts of the group's response and accompanying statement here.

The complete text of Williams' statement -- which the Archbishop's press office characterized as a 'cautious welcome' follows and is also available here.

"Press release from Lambeth Palace, Friday 1st December 2006, For immediate use, Archbishop – Cautious welcome for TEC proposals

[Press Office states:] "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has given a cautious welcome to proposals outlined by the Episcopal Church in the United States to offer alternative forms of oversight to dissenting parishes and dioceses. Dr Williams said that the proposals would contribute to the process of determining future relationships.

[Williams states:]" 'The meeting in New York to consider the questions raised by requests for "alternative primatial oversight" has produced some imaginative proposals which represent, potentially, a very significant development.

" 'I am glad to see these positive suggestions and shall be giving them careful consideration. I hope that they will mark a step forward in the long and difficult process of working out future relationships within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in a manner faithful to the gospel requirements of forebearance and generosity.' "

In other responses, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan issued a November 30 statement in his role as moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP) saying that the proposal appears to fall short of his organization's wishes. Member dioceses of NACDP include those who asked Williams for a relationship with a primate other than Jefferts Schori. The full text of Duncan's statement is available here.

Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth emailed the clergy of the diocese with what were described as his thoughts on the proposal. "While I am grateful for the efforts of those who crafted the proposal, I find it unacceptable and unworkable in its present form," Iker said.

"Perhaps it needs to be clarified that we have not requested someone to serve as 'the Presiding Bishop's designated pastor' to us; we have appealed for an alternative primate. Nor has this appeal been made to the Presiding Bishop, but to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion. We expect a suitable response from them at the Primates' Meeting in February.

"This new proposal is deficient in that it seeks to reinforce the PB's authority over us rather than provide an acceptable alternative. We cannot accept a Primatial Vicar appointed by her and accountable to her, who 'could' function for her only when so delegated by her. In addition, the provisional nature of the proposal does not meet our needs for a long-term solution to our irreconcilable differences."

The Rev. David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council (AAC), was also critical of the proposal, which he said "keeps all the power in her hands," referring to the Presiding Bishop. "Thus she makes all the decisions. It is a non-starter." Full text of Anderson's statement .

The Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), a conservative "think tank" based in Colorado, released its own proposal, which the group stated "has previously been circulated among some of the leadership of the Anglican Communion." The ACI counts former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, Archbishop Drexel Wellington Gomez of the West Indies, and Bishops John W. Howe of Central Florida, Edward L. Salmon of South Carolina, and James M. Stanton of Dallas among its board members. The full text of the ACI proposal can be found here.

Also on November 30, the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, a group that advocates for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the Episcopal Church, commended the proposal as "protecting the polity of The Episcopal Church while offering a pastoral response to those who hold a minority theological opinion."  The full text of Russell's statement is available here.