A Conference of Anglican Leaders Confronts Deeply Divisive Issues

Actions by the U.S. Episcopal Church test the durability of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, parades with other Bishops, as they make their way to Canterbury Cathedral for the Sunday service for the Lambeth Conference members. The 650 bishops and their spouses attended the service in Canterbury Cathedral before the once-a-decade conference began its deliberations.

650 bishops attended a service in Canterbury Cathedral before the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference began.

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But the issue of sexuality looms largest, despite the desire of Williams and others to try to focus the Communion's attention on global concerns such as poverty and HIV-AIDS. While Bishop Robinson was not invited to Lambeth (nor, for that matter, were Bishop Minns or the former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, a supporter of Zimbabwe's despotic president, Robert Mugabe), Robinson has made his presence felt at various informal gatherings and at churches near Canterbury. Preaching at one church, he charged that his foes' preoccupation with sexuality was "at best unhelpful—and at worst idolatry."

For the rest of this conference, clearly, and certainly beyond, the Middle Way will be hard to preserve.