Giles Fraser: The bishops really need to talk

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee has issued advice that the British Government, through Tony Blair in his new role, ought to be talking to Hamas. It is quite a risk. After all, Hamas has been responsible for encouraging suicide-bomb attacks against Israel. None the less: “We recommend that he engage with Hamas in order to facilitate reconciliation amongst Palestinians.”

This is the right thing to do, for it is just this sort of risky talk, often clandestine, that led to peace in Northern Ireland. No peace will ever come without a willingness to sit around a table and talk.

This is why the refusal of a number of Anglican bishops to accept the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the Lambeth Conference looks so childish and lacking in moral imagination (Press, 27 July). From Sydney to Nigeria to Winchester, there have been bishops toying with the idea that they might refuse to sit down and talk to other bishops. This is an out-and-out scandal, and has nothing whatsoever to do with homosexuality.

It is a scandal because church leaders might talk the talk about peace, but some just don’t walk the walk when it involves themselves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsChurch of NigeriaEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsLambeth 2008

Posted August 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. libraryjim wrote:

Would their actions really seem childish to the outside world if it weren’t pointed out that their actions looked childish at every turn?

And do they really look ‘childish’ or do they look like they actually stick with their deepest convictions despite constant badgering from the media and the liberal wing of TEC and its cronies?

August 27, 5:33 pm | [comment link]
2. Sir Highmoor wrote:

I thought the AC has been talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking . . .

August 27, 5:40 pm | [comment link]
3. CanaAnglican wrote:

Wait a minute!  Didn’t they already have these talks in their last two rounds of meetings, and come to a concensus as to what is to be done, even with the concurrance of the PB of TEC?  Will there never come a time when the priority returns to a church spreading the gospel?

Enough bickering!  If the Global South understands one thing, it is that we had the meetings, we had the bickering, now it is time to move on. The Global South is spreading the gospel.  It is sad to move on without the prodigal son(TEC), but the quicker we move on, the sooner he may return.

August 27, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
4. Connecticutian wrote:

First, I do hope the GS bishops will attend Lambeth, if only to press their case and make it “official”, if you will.  Not to continue endless “dialogue”.  They will not become “unclean” by attendance.  However…

Fraser’s argument is a non sequitor, and his analogy is poor.

“ is just this sort of risky talk, often clandestine, that led to peace in Northern Ireland. No peace will ever come without a willingness to sit around a table and talk.”

Lambeth is NOT the sort of clandestine meeting where worthy opponents haggle over accomodation and compromise away from special interests.  Perhaps Tony Blair should be meeting quietly with Hamas, but that is NOT the same as inviting Hamas to a summit meeting or even a state dinner.

August 27, 6:11 pm | [comment link]
5. Philip Snyder wrote:

We had talks of all the bishops in 98.  TECUSA didn’t listen.  We had Primates’ meetings in 2003, 2004, & 2006 and TECUSA didn’t listen.  We had ACC meetings at TECUSA didn’t listen.  In between all the meetings, and formal processes, we had a lot of informal and formal talks and TECUSA still didn’t listen.

When we TECUSA start to listen?

Phil Snyder

August 27, 6:19 pm | [comment link]
6. Philip Bowers wrote:

Give me a break.  These guys have talked for ten years, and especially so since 2003.  TEC just refuses to accept what the majority of the Anglican Communion asserts.  The GS recognizes this, and that the game plan is to talk and never enforce discipline on the communion.

August 27, 6:28 pm | [comment link]
7. Harvey wrote:

Sad to say, I believe the time for talking is over.  50 years of it has not solved anything as far as my interpretation of past history indicates.  On another blog I read of an action that would get TEC’s attention (or else).  What would happen if all the reassertering churches pulled out of TEC all at once?  Instead of the one-sy   two-sy pullout.  I tnik it might get TEC’s attention very quickly since they don’t have the funds to sue the “..great cloud of witnesses..” all at once.  Even stubborn mules wll listen once you get their attention.

August 27, 6:28 pm | [comment link]
8. Brad Page wrote:

In order to be fair, one must read this editorial with the knowledge that Giles Frasier is not impartial when it comes to the issues dividing the Anglican Communion, and that the peace he desires is one that would be brought about by the surrender of orthodox Anglicans to a “progressive Christian” (Unitarian?) moral and theological agenda.

Dr. Frasier knows that in both England and America, institutionally speaking, the tide is with him and his fellows.  His party has the prevailing influence, and having won the majority of the C of E and TEC (either by conversion or acquiescence) he now feels empowered to take on a spirit of pseudo-magnanimity and call for a peaceful settlement.

What rubbish.  As such an outspoken leader of the reappraiser ascendancy he has no business claiming the high moral ground here in order to wag his finger at those who have indicated they might not attend Lambeth.

August 27, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
9. Baruch wrote:

Harvey is right; however, can we get the mass movement required? I fear that the usual dance will take place without unified action. I for one am very close to shaking the dust from my feet and trying to find a CANA church close enough to attend.

August 27, 7:25 pm | [comment link]
10. Jon wrote:

I know this has probably been covered by you all, but I have to admit I agree with #4 Connecticutian.  I am confused by the desire of the GS not to attend.  They were in a huge majority in 1998.  Their majority is still probably about the same.  My feeling is that they should go and, as C says, formalize their response to TEC’s actions (including whatever she does in the next 35 days).  Make it official.  Then as they proceed on their course, with another clear Lambeth resolution at the their back, they are clearly acting with a formal Anglican mandate.  When they don’t show up at all, that just gives TEC’s bishops that much more voice.

I think C and I are just puzzled as to why they don’t do that—it seems like it is in their interest to do so.  And it probably wouldn’t have to be done again—ever frankly since things will be so different by the time 2018 rolls around.  It would just be nice to have formal clarity that Lambeth reflected and voted on the events of the last 5 years and hear is what they said.

August 27, 7:41 pm | [comment link]
11. Br. Michael wrote:

10, one more meeting to attend?  1998 was as clear as it could be.  It is now time for the consequences.  You call for one more delay, one more line in the sand, which we have had enough of.

August 27, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
12. Brad Page wrote:

John Stamper (#10):  Part of the reticence of the GS has to do with the stated intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to change the way this Lambeth Conference will function:  No legislative action (resolution), just more gracious conversation.  Absent that intention and I would agree that it would not make sense for the GS bishops to stay away.  However, given the fact that Canterbury continues to indicate that this will be yet another time for “fellowship, tea, and a nice chat about the issues” then the GS is right to ask if it is worth the expense to go when the structure of the event, and its president, will not allow substantive attempts at resolving the crisis within the Communion.  The opportunity for Lambeth to approve another “clear resolution” is not on the table.

August 27, 8:10 pm | [comment link]
13. Br. Michael wrote:

Quite frankly I am astounded at calls for more talk when TEC, Crew, Schori, Russel et al. have made it perfectly clear that they will not deviate from their course.  They know what they are doing.  They know the direction in which they are going.  They are not stupid and they are on the verge of accomplishing their goals.

August 27, 8:15 pm | [comment link]
14. Br. Michael wrote:

15, I reject the equivalence.  The reaction to TEC obstinacy did, and does not, cause the problem any more than Polish resistance caused WW2.

August 27, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
15. Br. Michael wrote:

That is: 15, I reject the equivalence.  The reaction to TEC obstinacy did not, and does not, cause the problem any more than Polish resistance caused WW2.

August 27, 10:33 pm | [comment link]
16. Wilfred wrote:

Whether the remaining Faithful bishops should meet one last time at Lambeth, to try to talk ECUSA out of its apostasy, or should quit beating a dead horse & get on with things more likely to be fruitful, I have no opinion.

But Mr Fraser’s “talk with Hamas” analogy is extremely unpersuasive, to the point that for me, it actually makes the reverse of his argument.  Why should we try having talks with a band of vicious cut-throats & terrorists, who would not hesitate to kidnap & murder any hapless diplomats we sent to negotiate? 

We are told to be innocent as doves & wise as serpents.  Nowhere are we told to be dumber than dirt.

August 27, 10:41 pm | [comment link]
17. Katherine wrote:

The analogy is indeed amusing, Wilfred.  Just WHO in the Anglican disputes does Fraser think is like Hamas?

August 27, 11:23 pm | [comment link]
18. Jody+ wrote:

Br. Michael,

While I agree with you that Lambeth 98 was clear, that doesn’t mean that Lambeth 2008 should be written off.  The Anglican Communion is a baby communion and doesn’t have the structures to deal with an international conflict, obviously.  Aside from fragmenting in a manner that in some ways mirrors Lutheran divisions and in some ways Eastern Orthodox, I don’t see how this issue can be dealt with in another way than working within the structures that are already present to strengthen them etc… That’s what the Windsor process and the Covenant are all about, because there hasn’t been a process for international discipline in the Communion until now, and the only times discipline has been exercised has been in extreme cases such as after the Rwandan genocide and currently with one Bishop in Zimbabwe.  The fact of the matter is that breaking communion isn’t even discipline—it’s what one has to do when repentance isn’t forthcoming and discipline isn’t an option.

All that being said I am very curious how those who suggest Lambeth should be boycotted propose any discipline will ever be possible?  And if discipline at the Communion level isn’t possible… well, then we aren’t really a Church are we?

August 28, 12:46 am | [comment link]
19. Jody+ wrote:

My last post aside, I agree that the author’s comparison is silly.  i certainly don’t think the Bishops who are threatening to boycott Lambeth are motivated by childishness.  In fact, I agree with them in the sense that if this issue isn’t dealt with before then, and Lambeth goes ahead with full participation, it is unlikely to deal with anything else at all.  And that’s an awfully expensive meeting for these issues that should be dealt with before hand.  But at the same time, perhaps that’s what has to happen for there to be any sort of finality one way or another.

August 28, 12:50 am | [comment link]
20. Larry Morse wrote:

I have to change my mind. I now think that all bishops should go, regardless of their pursuasion, and the Good Guys should get ready for a showdown at the OK corrall. That is, they should go in ready to fight, guns loose in the holster.

  I have spoken against the Endless Conversation often, but this time, I think the southern cone - in fact, all the Good Guys - have to put the Bad Guys feet to the fire, and hold them there. This would make the upcoming meeting a battle ground, but this would also force the sides to speak unequivocally, take clear positions, and confront the others with either/or options. The time has come for this.

August 28, 9:02 am | [comment link]
21. Ed the Roman wrote:

Granted, I’m on the outside of this fight and always have been, but “When will TECUSA start to listen?” is the wrong question.

The question is “Why does anyone think that they ever will?”

August 28, 9:26 am | [comment link]
22. Brad Page wrote:

After reading the posts here I have to repeat this statement from my last posting:  “The opportunity for Lambeth to approve another ‘clear resolution’ is not on the table”.

I hope I am wrong about that.  BUT, does everyone here understand that in order for my statement to be wrong and in order for THIS Lambeth to even have the opportunity to reach some resolution on the issues, the GS will have to successfully, and quite literally (and against the odds), hijack the program very early on.

A Lambeth 2008 with resolutions or statements that that will be in any way decisive is NOT what the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Institutional Leadership of the Communion, or even a majority of the bishops want.

August 28, 10:23 am | [comment link]
23. Philip Bowers wrote:


How will they ever discipline?

Well, the ABC had a chance to follow the lead of the orthodox and allow TEC to walk away, but he invited them to the party and, as Brad has pointed out, threw out all opportunities to pass any sort of meaningful resolution.  The ABC has made it clear that Lambeth 08 is to be a gabfest.  Why bother when TEC has made its course known?  Why talk and prolong the inevitable?  If the ABC is going to accept an unrepentant TEC, which he seems to be determined to do, the GS will not play.  This has been clear to anyone with half a brain since at least 2003.  It is disingenuous for Fraser et al to pretend that talk will change anything when TEC leadership has been as clear as possible that it has no intentions of changing course, no matter what.

August 28, 10:36 am | [comment link]
24. john scholasticus wrote:

I don’t think G Fraser is arguing that talk will change anything in the sense that everyone will agree a particular course of action. Nevertheless, I agree it’s not a particularly strong piece, and I have problems with the Northern Irish analogy (I’m Northern Irish Protestant). Everyone now talks as if this was a great triumph. Granted, it’s much better than the alternative of continued civil war but I still gag at who has come out on top - on both sides - and do not think it was inevitable, nor that it should be a paradigm of future conflict resolution.

August 28, 5:03 pm | [comment link]
25. Larry Morse wrote:

Odd, John, because I’m a northern Irishman, a black protestant wurra wurra, myself. Family was Ogden.  L

August 28, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
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