Sydney Bishops Take 'Wait-and-See' Stance on Anglican Invitation

The Anglican archbishop of Sydney and five assistant bishops in the Sydney diocese have delayed their response to an invitation to their worldwide denomination's decennial meeting, stating that they will wait to see what actions bishops in America will take before making a decision.

In a letter delivered to the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Archbishop Dr. Peter Jensen expressed the "great deal of joy" in receiving the invitation from Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams to the Lambeth 2008 conference but said "the timing of the invitation has proved difficult."

Before it could give Williams a final answer, the Sydney diocese said it would first look for the response of the U.S.-based Episcopal House of Bishops to a communiqué drafted earlier this year by conservative primates (Anglican leaders) from the Global South, reported the Church of England's newspaper.

The communiqué requests The Episcopal Church recommit to the Windsor Report – which recommended each church to ratify an Anglican Covenant to strengthen the link between churches within the Anglican Communion – which in part means that major decisions being made must be consulted with the wider communion. The document also requests the U.S. church body express regret for causing disunity and calls for its "heartfelt repentance and genuine change" in order to restore true communion.

The requests were made after The Episcopal Church consecrated V. Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop in 2003, which was seen as a departure from Anglican tradition and scriptural authority. The consecration had placed the U.S. arm of Anglicanism at odds with the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion which now seeks an unequivocal pledge from the Episcopal Church not to consecrate another openly homosexual bishop or authorize official prayers for same-sex couples.

"Sydney indicated it would follow the lead of the African churches and decline to attend the conference should the bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson or who have authorized local rites for the blessing of same-sex unions be invited to attend," the Church of England reported.

While the majority of the Anglican Communion is demanding "true repentance" from The Episcopal Church for its recent actions, Episcopal leaders have expressed that they will not be moving "backward" from their previous decisions.

A final response to the communiqué from The Episcopal Church is expected before the Sept. 30 deadline given by conservative Anglican leaders.