Magazine article The Christian Century

Rowan Williams Will Meet with Episcopal Bishops in September

Magazine article The Christian Century

Rowan Williams Will Meet with Episcopal Bishops in September

Article excerpt

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that he will visit the United States this September after U.S. Episcopal bishops declared an "urgent need" for a meeting with the spiritual leader of world Anglicanism.

Speaking at a news conference April 16 in Toronto, Williams said there has "never been any suggestion" that--despite earlier reports that he was too busy--he would decline an invitation to meet with the American bishops. The U.S. bishops have a crucial fall meeting in New Orleans September 20-25--at a time when their liberal majority is under pressure to respond to a controversial moratorium backed by traditionalist overseas primates by the end of September.

The U.S. Episcopal Church is at odds with more conservative sectors of the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issues of homosexuality and the authority of scripture. Meeting in Tanzania in February, Anglican leaders demanded that the U.S. church pledge not to appoint any more openly gay bishops or offer church blessings for same-sex couples.

Some observers, however, fear a reduced role for the U.S. church within the worldwide communion of autonomous provinces if it stays the course on homosexuality. Williams said sanctions could not be "imposed." But he also said, "My sense was that the reaction from [U.S. bishops] was a very strongly worded protest against what was seen as interference."

Meeting in Texas in March, U.S. bishops rejected the ultimatum and asked for a meeting with Williams. The archbishop said the "minimum" he hopes for in the September meeting "is simply a better understanding of [their] issues and a better understanding of what the evident problems are about the American church's constitution, which are holding us up a bit."

Asked by reporters in Toronto whether the global church is headed toward schism over questions of sexuality, Williams said: "I can't say. …

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