Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church has responded to Archbishop Peter Akinola's description of a private conversation with Griswold. (Today's picture shows Griswold, Akinola and Desmond Tutu together at a U.S. House of Bishops meeting in 2002.) Robert England of The Christian Challenge provided the most detailed version of Akinola's account of what occurred while the primates of the Anglican Communion gathered at Lambeth Palace one year ago:
When the primates took a tea break shortly thereafter, Akinola recalled, "I called Frank Griswold . . . out, and we embraced each other. And I said 'You and I have come a long way in the past three or four years; we have established a new relationship, new friendship, new rapport, new understanding.'
But he told Griswold: "'Look at the situation your church has led us into. Look at [your brother from] Pakistan, in tears, [from] India, in tears over what you have done. Our hearts are bleeding. You can save the Communion this costly problem by putting a stop to this agenda. You can stop the consecration of a practicing gay priest.'"
Today church spokesman Robert Williams sent this response to an email inquiry I sent late Tuesday afternoon:
The Presiding Bishop has stated that he does not recall the incident that Archbishop Akinola describes. Bishop Griswold has said that he does remember Archbishop Akinola asking him privately if the Presiding Bishop thought Bishop Robinson's consecration in fact would take place and the Presiding Bishop said that he thought it would proceed. Bishop Griswold was asked in one of the sessions of the primates' meeting to stop the consecration. The Presiding Bishop replied that the church had made a decision that he could not countermand and if he could not abide by it he himself would be obliged to resign. Bishop Griswold explained that as Presiding Bishop he has no authority that allows him to override decisions made formally and canonically by the church. His role is to uphold these decisions. The Presiding Bishop has said further that he recalls parting from the meeting with an amicable and subdued spirit. The meeting followed the Presiding Bishop's earlier experience of visiting Nigeria to lead a retreat for bishops there.
Yesterday Griswold issued a separate statement quoted by Rachel Zoll of The Associated Press:
Griswold responded in a statement that he was "deeply saddened" that Akinola feels betrayed. "My love for Archbishop Akinola is undiminished, and I pray that one day our friendship in Christ may be restored," Griswold said.