Thursday, January 03, 2008

What Did the Pres... Oops! the Archbishop Know...?

There’s an interesting tidbit over at Anglican Mainstream (and thanks to titusonenine for pointing to it). It is a snippet based on a George Conger article for the Church of England Newspaper. The article is about a radio interview of Archbishop Williams on December 19, in which he was asked about his Advent letter of December 15.

The snippet at Anglican Mainstream includes this short paragraph:

Plans to hold a pre-Lambeth meeting for conservatives did not signal disloyalty, Dr Williams said, as such a meeting ‘would not have any official status as far as the Communion is concerned’.

This raises an interesting question. If this interview took place on December 19, and GAFCON was not announced until Christmas Day or thereabouts, the question becomes, “What did the Archbishop know, and when did he know it?”

I’m not really suggesting a great conspiracy as such. First, it would not be surprising if those most interested in GAFCON had raised a hypothetical possibility with the Archbishop. They could do so entirely without suggesting the divisive agenda that was actually announced. After all, the reference is not to a meeting, but to “plans to hold a pre-Lambeth meeting.”

Second, the quote attributed to the Archbishop is literally true: GAFCON has no “official status as far as the Communion is concerned.” It is a meeting of like-minded folks. Now, it is a meeting of like-minded folks with an agenda that seems explicitly intended to replace the functions of the Anglican Communion Council with a creature of their own. It seems unlikely that most of those involved actually care that the meeting has no “official status.” However, the statement is true as quoted.

Third, because we don’t have the question to which this was part of the response, nor even the Archbishop’s full sentence, it is possible that the first clause - that plans "did not signal disloyalty' - is editorializing. Again, I can’t say one way or the other; but neither can I suggest from this that Archbishop Williams knew what would be released to the rest of us on Christmas Day.

However, I think it’s time to ask that question again, next time he gets interviewed. I do wonder what was suggested to him before that December 19 interview. I do wonder what he thinks of GAFCON now that its agenda has been announced, along with comments from at least one primate that he will attend GAFCON and not Lambeth (although from his commitment to the “refusal of the cross” metaphor, I think we can hazard a guess about that last).

Actually, I don’t think we’ll ever really know. I don’t know whether the question would be asked again, or even whether there’d be occasion to ask it. Still, I think it would be awfully interesting to find out. Don’t you?


Ann said...

There has been talk of a "alternate Lambeth" since summer at least. The ABC could have been thinking about the ideas for that.

Marshall said...

True enough; and, again, I don't think there's any conspiracy, nor that Canterbury is part of it. On the other hand, I would still like to hear his reaction to the new facts; but I don't expect we will.