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Lambeth Digest, Day 11

[Episcopal News Service, Canterbury] Much happens each day at the Lambeth Conference. In addition to Episcopal Life Media's other coverage, here's some of what else happened on August 1, the eleventh day of the conference.

Sexuality, Scripture sections added to draft of conference's final report
The group drafting a reflections document, expected to be issued on the last day of the Lambeth Conference (August 3), released two additions to the third draft of the document this afternoon.

The sections titled "Bishop and Sexuality" and "The Bible and the Bishop in Mission" were given to reporters as the bishops began a closed hearing this afternoon to comment on them.

The text of the original version of the third draft (released July 31) is available here. This version does not include the new sections.

Still to come in the document are sections on "gender and power," the proposed Anglican covenant, the Windsor Process and "leading in God's mission." There will also be a concluding section.

The "Bishop and Sexuality" section consists of both narrative and lists titled "The Issue," "Impact" and "Options." The narrative says, in part, that "while there is a desire to end the spiral of chaos around this issue, there appears to be no desire to be so decisive at this stage that anyone would want to walk away."

Among the items on the issue list is the statement that "in some parts H/L (referred to earlier in the document as homosexual/lesbian) relations are a taboo; in other it has become a justice issue." The impact list includes the observation that "in some regions the issue has become a test of orthodoxy and a basis for hostile actions." The options list includes the advice to "give pastoral care but do not canonize, regularize, legalize or endorse homosexual/lesbian relationships."

"The Bible and the Bishop in Mission" section notes that "an Anglican approach to Scripture honors the sacred texts as inspired and revealed by God while inviting us to use the resources of the human intellect to interpret and apply those texts for making faithful disciples and for deepening of holy lives worthy of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

More drafts are expected. The goal is to produce a finished document on August 2, the day before the conference ends. It is to be made public the next day.

Egyptian bishop says "unresolved issues" still divide Lambeth
Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa met with reporters "to offer reflections" about the conference, which he said provided an opportunity for "the Global South bishops as well as other orthodox bishops … to meet and support each other." He praised Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for seeking unity but said "unresolved issues are still dividing the communion."

He told reporters he "would have loved to go back to my people with good news of progress towards truly resolving our crisis and that we still all continue to uphold the mind of the church as expressed in the Lambeth '98 Resolution 1.10 which reaffirmed the historic teaching of the church." But, in spite of the Bible study and indaba discussion groups, he said "we are finding it very hard to come together on even the essentials of the faith we once received from the apostles.

"Everywhere we go here, we meet gay and lesbian activists, receive their newsletters or read about their many events. Many seem to be supported by North American churches. They are intent to push their agenda on us. No other lobbying groups seem to enjoy similar access, or to be able to have their literature prominently displayed all over the campus and at the entrance to every residence," he said. 

He compared "the attitude of some from the North American churches (with) … the arrogance of the American administration that made a mess in Iraq because it refused to listen to millions of voices from the wider world."

Such "revisionist" positions, he said, "are inviting the church into a new form of slavery: a slavery to modern secular culture and to immoral desires and lusts. Simply because people feel desires to do certain things, or, to live in certain ways, has never before, of itself, meant that the Church should bless them in doing so."

Anis told reporters that while he did not attend the Global Anglican Futures Conference held June 21-22 in Jerusalem, he felt it was very positive and that he will continue to support the Global South.

"The church must offer a welcome to all and offer every loving support, but this does not mean it must endorse whatever temptations and lifestyles people desire.  The church must uphold its moral teaching and call society to account: this is the true nature of its prophetic witness to the world."

When asked about the absence of African bishops who boycotted Lambeth, Anis said: "I honestly have hoped that all of them would be here, because their voice would be much more valued in this. But they still speak in their silence."

San Diego bishop calls Venables' apology 'important step to healing'
Bishop James Mathes of San Diego said that he is heartened by an apology from Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, for unwelcome incursions into the Southern California diocese.

During a news conference and in a letter posted on his diocesan website, Mathes said Venables apologized over a July 30 breakfast for not contacting him "before making incursions into the Diocese of San Diego. Over the past two years, Bishop Venables together with Bishop Frank Lyons of the same province, have made numerous episcopal visits to our diocese without my knowledge or consent."

Yet, when questioned by reporters, Mathes admitted Venables did not say the incursions into other dioceses would stop. Venables did not appear at the press conference.

Mathes said he was also relieved to hear Venables say "he had not received either of the two letters I had sent protesting these actions and outlining the harm they caused to the church here in San Diego. Previously, I had taken his silence to mean his actions were intentional."
He characterized the development as a "mutual walking towards each other and entering into respectful dialogue (which) is exactly what the Archbishop of Canterbury has called us to over the past two weeks. Please pray that this, and other breakthroughs of generous love, will be the true fruit of this conference." 

Mathes said he is proposing that he and Venables continue conversations "to mend the tear these incursions have caused in our diocese," and said Venables had agreed to consider such a plan.

Women and gays as bishops undermine unity, says Vatican official
The Vatican's top official for Christian unity warned that dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics has been undermined by the consecrations of women and an openly gay cleric as bishops.

"Take the ordination of women. Previously there was a serious discussion about the recognition of Anglican ordination and orders, but that is now blocked," Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said in an August 1 interview with the German Catholic News Agency KNA. "And then the question of human sexuality; here new questions have emerged that we did not have in the past with Anglicans."

Kasper's remarks followed a speech he gave on July 30 at the Lambeth Conference in which he said he was "deeply discouraged by recent developments" in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In his address, the cardinal had described homosexual activity as "disordered". He said a clear statement on this from the Anglican Communion "would greatly strengthen the possibility of us giving common witness regarding human sexuality and marriage."

The cardinal described women bishops as "a new tradition, alien to the tradition of the Church of all ages". He said, "the ordination of women to the episcopate effectively and definitively blocks a possible recognition of Anglican Orders by the Catholic Church."

Kasper also said the Vatican would also have to "take account the decision of a significant number of Anglican bishops not to attend this Lambeth Conference."

Next up
The daily schedules for the bishops and spouses conferences, as well as each evening's official "fringe events" are here.

-- Contributors to today's digest include Solange De Santis, the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg and the Rev. Pat McCaughan.

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