Openly-gay US Bishop Gene Robinson, whose 2003 consecration sparked controversy in the worldwide Anglican Communion, has not been issued with a formal invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the world’s Anglican bishops.
A spokesperson for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Communion, confirmed to Ecumenical News International that Robinson was one of several bishops omitted so far from 800 invitations sent out electronically to attend the once-every-ten-year gathering.
In a letter to Anglican bishops released on 22 May, Williams said: "I have reserved the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointments, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious divisions or scandals within the Communion."
The Rev. Martyn Minns, the US Episcopalian rector consecrated in April as a bishop by the Church of Nigeria to serve dissident Anglican congregations in the United States opposed to the ordination of homosexual clergy, has also not been sent an invitation.
Williams said he was "seeking further advice" about the issuing of invitations in "one or two" other cases. These include Zimbabwean Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, an open supporter of President Robert Mugabe.
"Bishop Kunonga has not been sent an invitation at present. He is one of the cases the Archbishop of Canterbury is still taking advice on," the Anglican spokesperson told ENI.
At a meeting in London on 1 May, Williams said, "Some five weeks ago I met the bishop of Harare directly to ask him whether he would contemplate not only rediscovering his soul, so to speak, in relation to the Mugabe government, but whether he would contemplate an arrangement which we would willingly broker with the World Food Programme administered through the Anglican church in Zimbabwe. The answer was ‘No!’"
Attendance by Bishop Robinson at the Lambeth conference might, according to observers, have led to African and Asian bishops staying away from the event. The exclusion of Martyn Minns could, in turn, they say, risk a boycott by the Nigerian contingent led by Archbishop Peter Akinola who consecrated Minns for a missionary role in the United States.
The head of a British group campaigning on behalf of homosexual Christians condemned the failure to issue Bishop Robinson with an invitation to the Lambeth Conference.
"This is a flagrant example of victimisation that quite clearly intends to diminish Bishop Robinson’s status," said the Rev. Richard Kirker, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
Still, Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, told ENI that although an invitation had not been issued, he understood that the Archbishop of Canterbury had written to the US bishop about the possibility of his attending as a guest.
(c) Ecumenical News International
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