Question: May I just ask how is your conversation with the Bishop of Canterbury?
Katherine Jefferts Schori: How is my conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury? Right. I don’t know him terribly well. (laughter) I’ve met him only three times. I think there is a desire for greater relationship there. Certainly there is on my part. Charles Robertson – Chuck Robertson, the Canon to the Presiding Bishop who was here until this afternoon – is going to England on Monday to try and increase the level of conversation with the Archbishop’s Office and the office of the Anglican Communion; the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion. We’re working at it. I think the biggest difficulty is the conflict in the Church of England is far greater than it is in this church. And the Archbishop of Canterbury is first and foremost head of the Church of England. Everything that impacts the rest of the communion is being played out even on a larger stage in his own church. He’s in a very difficult position. Very difficult. I empathize with him. And I pray for him and I hope you do too.
We know the three times that the PB has met Rowan Williams. The first time was after she became Presiding Bishop and she went over with Frank Griswold to meet him in London. The second time was at the meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam. And the third time was at the New Orleans House of Bishops meeting this past September. So they haven’t had any other meetings or gabfests except for these three formal occasions. Her tone here is condescending. There is an assumption of superiority (frankly, it’s been quite illuminating to wonder if it’s just because she thinks her direct line to the spirit trumps his or the fact that she’s just acting like an American). But she ends up with this sort of “let’s all feel sorry for poor Rowan, boo hoo hoo – next question!”
So she’s having to send an emissary over to Lambeth to try to smooth things over. What’s up with that? Why doesn’t she just pick up her cell and ring him? For God’s sake, she’s the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church – she can’t just ring him up and pop across the pond for a parlay? Are things that bad? And then she goes and blames the fact that his Church is in worst condition than hers (who is she kidding?). “I think the biggest difficulty is the conflict in the Church of England is far greater than it is in this church. ” Can you imagine if President Bush had said the same thing about Prime Minster Blair if Blair had stopped returning his calls? “I think the biggest difficulty is the conflict in England is far greater than it is in this country.” The howls of outrage, the arrogance of such a statement, the audacity to say such a thing publicly would mean that the president was in complete denial over the crises in our own country and had become so deluded that he would blame the breakdown of his relationship with Blair as Blair’s own fault. Good heaven’s, we’d have to reinforce the Capitol from getting burned again after a statement like that.
But here we have the Presiding Bishop blaming her lack of relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury on him. It can’t be her fault, it’s never never her fault. It doesn’t even seem to cross her mind that some of his greatest “difficulties” are due to the actions of the American Episcopal Church.