Facts are such pesky things. Every now and then one gets in the brain and just sticks there. Earlier this week, religion reporter Jonathan Petre reported in The Telegraph that the global showdown of the Anglican primates might include some potent and poignant protests -- in part centering on actions that will or will not be taken by U.S. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (left) and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (right, in the photo). Here is some of that story, with the familiar politics-of-sexuality references trimmed since Anglican-beat watchers already know all of that:
Conservative archbishops attending Anglican crisis talks this week will demonstrate their anger with their liberal counterparts by refusing to receive Communion alongside them, The Telegraph has learned. . . .
Insiders say that Archbishop Peter Akinola, the primate of Nigeria, has warned him that the conservatives will boycott the daily church services during the conference if the liberals are there. The problem could become most acute when Dr. Williams presides at Communion -- a sacrament supposed to symbolise the unity of the Church -- as Archbishop Akinola is thought to represent up to half of the 38 primates.
Now this is what I call a pesky fact.
Every since reading this, I have been going to Google News and typing in the words Rowan, Griswold and communion, with few results that tell me much of anything. There have been, of course, daily reports from the conservative cyber-scribe David Virtue, the fiery activist who has, in his own unique way, done much to yank many private Anglican events into the open. Everyone knows where Virtue is coming from, sort of like the reports from the official Episcopal press.
This Communion story may seem like an "insider" detail. But this pesky fact concerns a symbol that is also a Sacrament and, well, they are supposed to call it the Anglican Communion for a reason. I will keep looking, even though I realize that the Brits are doing everything they can to lock reporters out of every aspect of these meetings.
Nevertheless, please let us see if you see MSM coverage of the Eucharist issue. On the theological level, it is more important than the on-paper resolutions.
On a related topic, check out the following BBC item. This appeal for web-based feedback has to have one of the most biased headlines I have seen in a long time. Here is the item:
Will Africa split the Anglican Church?
Leaders of the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion have been meeting this week near Belfast in Northern Ireland to discuss an ongoing crisis that threatens to split the church.
The 38 primates will consider the so-called Windsor Report, published after the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson in America and the blessing of same sex unions in Canada.
African and Asian leaders have started a campaign to restore order and to discipline an American Church which, they say, has departed from the Bible and Anglican tradition.
Would you back African bishops if they walk out of the meeting? Would you even ask the bishops to leave and create their own Church? Is the unity of the church not more important than disagreements over homosexuality? Shouldn't the Anglican church modernise and accept that society is changing?
Let us know your views. . . . A selection of your comments will be broadcast on the BBC's Focus on Africa programme on Saturday 26 February at 1700GMT.
Note the assumption: A stand to defend the ancient doctrines claimed by the overwhelming majority of Anglicans worldwide may split the church, not the innovations approved by the relatively small churches in North America. Why not stay neutral and say that the sexuality conflict might divide the Communion?
UPDATE: On the Google watch, there are two or three reports online with new information. One interesting detail: Williams made a strong appeal for unity, in an Evensong service that did not, of course, include Communion. There is quite a bit of new information in this fresh Church of England Newspaper report. Here is the money quote, from the leader of the American church:
Bishop Griswold entered the Primates' meeting in a defiant mood, delivering a thinly veiled defence of his decision to consecrate Canon Gene Robinson in a sermon in Belfast Cathedral. He used coded theological language to compare the American Church's action to the 'White Martyrs'.
"We find ourselves overtaken by a compassion, which because it is of the Spirit and not the result of our effort or imagination, knows no bounds and can enfold all persons and all things. It is a compassion, which in the words of St Isaac of Syria, embraces not only humankind but the birds and the beasts, the enemies of truth, those who wish to do us harm and 'even the reptiles', which may be seen as representing those slithery aspects of our own humanity which we are loath to admit to the company of our 'better' selves and therefore often displace on to others as evil."
I wonder if the "reptile" quote will be unpacked in the MSM.