The direction the Anglican communion is taking is saddening. Bishops whose appointment, actions or 'manner of life' are considered divisive or scandalous have been excluded from invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. According to the NY Times,
The archbishop of Canterbury sent out more than 800 invitations yesterday to a once-a-decade global gathering of Anglican bishops. But he did not invite the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the bishop in Virginia who heads a conservative cluster of disaffected American churches affiliated with the archbishop of Nigeria.
Openly gay bishop Gene Robinson might be at the center of this firestorm, but he is not the one responsible for sowing division and scandal in the worldwide Anglican communion. The responsibility for that lies squarely at the feet of Nigerian Archbishop Akinola and others bent on constraining the historical openness and unity of the Anglican communion by a new form of puritanical fundamentalism.
Bishop Robinson said he was extremely disappointed at his exclusion and asked in a statement, “At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a ‘listening process’ on the issue of homosexuality, how does it make sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the discussion?”
The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, who has expressed liberal views on homosexuality in the past, has been determined to keep the communion intact. In his invitation letter, Archbishop Williams wrote, “I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the communion.”
How sad that the opportunity to extend grace (to both Robinson and his fundamentalist detractors) has been squandered in favor of political expediency.
Thank God Rowan Williams' ability to extend invitations is limited to ecclesial gatherings. I wonder who would be invited or disinvited to the banquet table of Christ, if invitations were in such mortal hands? As far as I know, the only criteria to get onto that list is to be thirsty for the free gift of the water of life (Rev. 22:17).
I wonder who Jesus would discriminate against?