In the form-letter issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office, in response to concerns about the lack of invitation to the duly-elected bishop of New Hampshire to the next Lambeth Conference, the following reminder is made (emphasis mine):
From the time of the election of Bishop Gene Robinson to See of New Hampshire, both the representatives of many Anglican Provinces and the Instruments of Communion made it clear that full recognition by the Communion could not be given to a bishop whose chosen lifestyle would, in most Provinces of the Communion, give rise to canonical impediment to his consecration as a bishop. The Archbishop has to be loyal to that widespread concern as well as bearing in mind the position of Bishop Robinson within The Episcopal Church. The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status.
Thus it appears that the reason for Robinson’s status is some clear-cut canonical principle. However, any woman bishop would also find herself in a similar canonical situation in “most Provinces of the Communion” since most of the provinces do not as yet allow women to exercise the episcopate, and their canons are really rather clear to that end. Yet none of the women diocesans in the Anglican Communion have been told they might be invited to Lambeth “in another status.” As far as I know, all of the women diocesans have been “fully recognized” at Lambeth even though they could not be “fully recognized” canonically.
So the “canonical impediment” cannot be the real root issue here. And I suspect raising it was an effort to divert the discussion — and perhaps to deflect our collective attention with a bit of camouflage — from the real problem for most of those who find it problematical throughout the communion: the chosen lifestyle — which would be “a concern” to them even if it were not mentioned in the canons — as I dare say it is not mentioned in most of them. The canons really have very little to do with it, and it is a bit coy for the Archbishop’s office to try to make it appear that way. I understand they are in a difficult position — but it would be better to stand in it than stoop to such excuses.
Tobias Haller BSG