A few months ago I was writing a lot about the Lambeth Conference, and about the “alternative” GAFCON conference. Well, GAFCON is already here (but I have not yet kept up to date with reports from it), and Lambeth is coming up very soon.
I would be surprised if Broadbent stays away from Lambeth, although he might also attend GAFCON.
But now the Telegraph reports (thanks to the Church TImes blog for the link, also for linking to this blog on another matter) that Broadbent will be absent from Lambeth, along with Bishops Nazir-Ali and Benn whose absence has long been announced. This is confirmed in this Fulcrum forum thread, in a post written “Sunday 22 June 2008 – 03:41pm”, in which Graham Kings writes that Broadbent
is not going to make a public statement about his reasons for not going to Lambeth, which are complex.
This is of course clear confirmation that Broadbent is not going. On the same thread this morning, “Monday 23 June 2008 – 09:23am”, Broadbent himself gives a public statement, not “about his reasons for not going to Lambeth” but about his reasons for not making a public statement about his reasons. I don’t think that is being inconsistent, but I’m not sure. He writes:
1. Because there isn’t a party line. There is a conference. There are invitations. You can accept an invitation or decline it. It’s not a matter for third parties.
2. Because you may feel that explaining your reasons publicly would not be helpful to the conference host, whom you may not wish to undermine.
3. Becasue non-attendance is of course saving money, rather than expending it, and allows the Anglican Communion to spend more on cheese.
No wonder “Liddon” calls Broadbent “a politician”! But I have my own interesting points to make here:
- Broadbent apparently does not want to undermine Archbishop Rowan Williams, who he considers “a good man”.
- He is avoiding both conferences, saving money for both sets of organisers!
- Nevertheless he has his reasons for not attending, and explaining them publicly would not be helpful to Williams – which implies that the reasons are not purely personal.
One might wonder if Broadbent is trying to keep a foot in both camps, not upsetting his evangelical friends by attending Lambeth, but also not upsetting Williams and his associates by attending GAFCON or going public with any criticism. I don’t want to suggest that Broadbent’s position is anything less than honourable, but I do see it as a political decision, a compromise. Sadly the Anglican Communion has got into its current bad state because of a series of compromises. I don’t think it is helpful to anyone to continue to compromise.
Sitting on fences is uncomfortable, and remaining on this one will surely become even more so. Some time quite soon Bishop Broadbent will have to jump down on one side or the other.