THE ARCHBISHOP of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, has told the Archbishop of Canterbury that he and his five assistant bishops cannot yet give a firm reply to their invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
The Bishops’ letter regrets that the timing of the invitation has proved “difficult”, since the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States is due to give its response on 30 September to the Primates’ communiqué from Tanzania. The Episcopal Church has been asked not to consecrate any more gay bishops, and to put a moratorium on same-sex blessings.
Dr Jensen writes: “In view of the real hesitations that we experience in joining with those who have consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson, and with others who have allowed for the blessing of same-sex unions, and given the significance of these events, we feel that we cannot give an answer to your kind invitation until later in the year.”
Sydney has already expressed to Dr Williams its “dissatisfaction at the attempt to maintain faithful union with the unrepentant, while continuing to refuse fellowship to faithful and orthodox Anglicans such as the Church of England in South Africa”. Its standing committee agreed in June that Dr Jensen and the bishops should go to Lambeth, but not without making Sydney’s stance public “in protest, speech and liturgical action” (News, 29 June).
“Several hundred” of the 800 invitees had already registered online for the Conference, and “many dozens” were registering by post, said the Revd Jim Rosenthal, director of communications for the Anglican Communion Office, on Tuesday. The office would not be issuing details of who had registered while the registration process was still in train, he said. “Of course, individual bishops are free to comment on their own status.”
Sue Parks, the conference manager, said that registrations would be accepted “continuously over the next several months”, Mr Rosenthal said. The original deadline was 31 July, but Mr Rosenthal said: “We know from a number of people who have contacted us that post can take weeks to reach its destination — in each direction.”
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