Monday, October 21, 2013

GAFCON leaders skeptical of ++Welby's diplomatic overtures


George Conger reports from Nairobi:

Archbishop Welby’s attempts at shuttle diplomacy, holding private meetings with leading members of the Communion’s liberal and conservative wings, was met with scepticism in Nairobi.

The GAFCON leaders knew that, a week earlier, the Archbishop had breakfasted in London with the former Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, the first openly partnered gay bishop.

The office of Archbishop of Canterbury could not serve as an honest broker between the factions, conservatives warned Archbishop Welby, but must stand with or against them. The issues were not political, but spiritual, one archbishop said, and thus not amenable to compromise.

Archbishop Welby’s whirlwind visit to Nairobi on Sunday provided an opportunity for him to take the measure of six Primates and half-a-dozen other key leaders, including the General Secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, and the retired Nigerian Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, in a private meeting at All Saints’ Cathedral.

The conservatives also had an opportunity to size up Archbishop Welby. All of those questioned after the meetings expressed a personal regard for the man, but were sceptical that his office could provide a solution to the divisions within the Church if it sought to take a neutral stance.

“Archbishop Welby’s statement ‘The old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work,’ given on the eve of GAFCON, give us hope,” Dr Jensen said. Nevertheless, the future envisioned by Archbishop Welby “began with GAFCON 2008″, Dr Jensen said. “It’s time for him to catch up.”