1.8.08

And so in summary.... BBc News Online Lambeth diary reports:

...it's clear that the bishops will not solve the dispute about homosexuality...But the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is hoping for one significant development. Dr Williams told the bishops that unless they came up with a set of the common values, shared Anglican principles, and an agreement to abide by them, he could see nothing but further disintegration ahead.

The agreement - or "covenant" - will not spring fully-formed from the conference, and it would need to be ratified by each of the 38 autonomous Anglican Churches in the world.

Dr Williams tried to distil the argument first of traditionalists and then of liberals, expressing each accurately and bluntly enough, but in the sort of terms that could make you believe compromise was still possible.

He admitted it felt both "presumptuous" and "risky", a sign of how deeply entrenched the opposing sides have become.

In Dr Williams's version, for example, traditionalists say to liberals: "We don't see why welcoming the gay or lesbian person [into the Church] must mean blessing what they do in the Church's name [for example blessing same-sex relationships], or accepting them for ordination [for example as bishops], whatever their lifestyle."

As Dr Williams would have it, liberals say in response that they feel the spiritual life of their churches has been enhanced by "acknowledging the [spiritual] gifts of gay and lesbian believers. They will certainly be likely to feel that the restraint you ask for is a betrayal. Please try to see why this is such a dilemma for many of us"...

"What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces [the ordination of Gene Robinson in America for example] is felt as a body-blow to integrity of mission and as a matter of physical risk to Christians [to Anglicans living tensely with Muslim neighbours in northern Nigeria for instance]."

Dr Williams said the only solution he could see was a "covenant" - some sort of statement of shared beliefs and a more-or-less binding agreement to stick to the

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.