I'm a bit behind the times here (pun really unintended, because it would be a lame pun), but last Friday in the Times, Archbishop Orombi of Uganda published a column as a guest contributor that is worth noting.
He writes, "We believe that our absence at this Lambeth Conference is the only way that our voice will be heard. For more than ten years we have been speaking and have not been heard. So maybe our absence will speak louder than our words." Which reminds me very much of the time that my sister and my mother were] having an argument and my sister's side consisted of the refrain: "You're not listening to me! You're not listening to me!" and finally, "You're not agreeing with me!"
But the Archbishop has a very good point (i.e. I'm agreeing with him) when he says, "Since that meeting [of the primates in 2003, after the election of Bishop Gene Robinson there have been numerous other “betrayals” to the extent that it is now hard to believe that the leadership in the American Church means what it says. They say that they are not authorising blessings of same-sex unions, yet we read newspaper reports of them. Two American bishops have even presided at such services of blessings. Bishops have written diocesan policies on the blessings of same-sex unions. It is simply untrue to say they have not been authorised."
It's driven me crazy, too. There's all sorts of legerdemain in the church about how, "Oh, no, no, we're not authorizing blessings; that's for the national church to decide at General Convention and they never have. We're just proposing rites of same sex blessing" I'm sorry, but that's just sissy talk. It's quite clear that those who are opposed to same sex blessings are opposed to them happening at all. And I can understand why they feel betrayed when the Episcopal Church says they won't authorize same sex blessings and then offers them. It's like the old "I'm not touching you!" torture. Technically, no, but surely we must realize this is pouring salt in the wound.
Why not be up front about it? Why not brave the possibility that we would be kicked out of the club for doing what we think is right? As it is, our behavior makes us look like jerks, and in this article, at least, Orombi is too much of a Christian to say so outright.
The final major point of the Archbishop's article is to state that the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is a colonial remnant, and he certainly has a point here, too. The only person who can invite people to Lambeth or not is chosen...by the British government. "Even the pope is elected by his peer," the Archbishop notes. And it is indeed very odd. The Archbishop further says, "The spiritual leadership of a global communion of independent and autonomous provinces should not be reduced to one man appointed by a secular government." And I don't think it is, but he raises an issue that I haven't seen mentioned before.
I think the Archbishop, of course, has every right not to attend Lambeth if he doesn't want. I am very sorry if (and I don't have all the details aside from Bishop Mwamba's comments) he prevented other Ugandan bishops from attending Lambeth against their will. But I do think his statement in the Times is more than just a fit of pique and is worth listening to, even if we don't agree.