Saturday, I read a post by the Rt. Rev' V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire. He expressed his deep hurt that the American Bishops will meet next Tuesday but that he will be excluded from that meeting, too, because Rowan does not want Robinson present at the meeting.
My first reaction was incredible anger; that bothered me because I am not an easily angered person.
As Archbishop of Canterbury he has the prerogative of invitation to official Lambeth Conference events. The meeting of our bishops is not a Lambeth event. Every time I cut him some slack, or he scores a point, he fouls out. (I cannot believe I just used a sports metaphor!)
After I cooled down and reason returned, I decided to wait and see what the facts are about this insult. In his blog today, Bishop Robinson writes:
I learned more about today's planned meeting of the House of Bishops and the official thinking behind my not being able to attend. I don't "get" their reasoning, but here it is: (And the fact is, most of our House of Bishops is probably totally unaware of the "negotiations" going on behind the scenes.) The Lambeth planners do NOT consider this a meeting of our House of Bishops. Rather, they say, this is a part of the Lambeth Conference, and therefore, as a non-invitee, I will not be allowed on the premises where the meeting is taking place. It seems a flimsy distinction to me, but I have decided not to pursue it. It really puts all of us in a lose-lose position: if I abide by their ruling, I am excluded; if I fight it or simply show up, then I'm the troublemaker and rebel. If the House of Bishops takes some action on this, necessitating a vote, then it divides our House -- a further and unnecessary division that I refuse to encourage. So no matter how you slice it, someone loses. I have decided, on my own, to let it go, sad as it is. This is not a ditch I feel called to die in. I will just mourn the sadness of it, and move on. (There's something about shaking the dust off your sandals and moving on that I've read somewhere!)
And there is the voice of Christ, again, in the worlds of +Robinson.
As I understand the canons, the bishops are not “House of Bishops” except at General Convention. At all other times they are just bishops – a college of bishops, perhaps. So, technically this is not a meeting of the House of Bishops.
Bishop Robinson adds, with typical generosity
What I want all of you to know is that there are some amazing people in our House of Bishops who are working constantly behind the scenes to support me. Their support means the world to me. They are as dismayed, discouraged and frustrated as the rest of us. They need to play their roles inside the Big Top … and I need to play mine, outside, as our beloved ++Katharine told me back in March. So that's what we'll do.
In the Eucharist Lectionary for Pentecost X, yesterday, we read these words
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.”
This reminded me of Bishop Robinson. Regardless of all the insults the foreign prelates, God has a work for +Gene. Nothing will prevent that work from being accomplished. Thanks be to God!