I respect the consciences of those who have said they do not feel able to attend because there will be those present who have in their view acted against the disciplinary and doctrinal consensus of the communion. Needless to say, I regret such a decision, since I believe we should be seeking God’s mind for the Communion in prayer and study together; but it simply reminds us that even the most ‘successful’ Lambeth Conference leaves us with work still to be done in rebuilding relationships. The decision of some to be absent not only shows the deep differences over theology and ethics that have so strained our connections; it also reflects, uncomfortably for us, some of the legacy of hurt that is felt by some of our provinces at what is experienced as patronising or manipulative or insensitive actions and attitudes on the part of many of the churches of the ‘West’ or ‘North’ – not only the Episcopal Church in the USA, but us as well. That’s hard to hear, but we have to hear it and to offer apologies and seek for better understanding. Lambeth can’t be the end of the story; and if at Lambeth we try to do proper justice to the idea of a Covenant, it must be in the light of that need for a more serious and profound mutuality between us all.
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