The bishops got on fine for a while—but was it only a holiday romance?
BY ITS own unusual lights, the Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops was a great success. Its self-imposed task was to avoid any nasty rows between 650 purple-clad gentlemen (and a few purple-clad ladies) who hold widely diverging views on issues which they see as matters of principle, not detail. And a “surprising level of sheer willingness to stay together” was finally reported, on August 3rd, by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury—after nearly three weeks of well-choreographed confraternity in which participants took no votes and made no firm decisions. (Such a luxury would hardly be possible for a body like, say, the International Telecommunication Union, where success is judged by earthly yardsticks.)
Still, the Anglican leader’s own standing as a mediator, doing his best to hold together the almost irreconcilable, rose as a result of the gathering. And in a very Anglican way, the thorny issues facing the church were artfully concealed by euphemism and arcane procedures that will unfold over several years. Minds were distracted from trickier subjects by a hyper-inclusive march against poverty.