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Archbishop Rebukes "Ungracious" Criticism of Archbishop
of Canterbury

Archbishop Rebukes "Ungracious" Criticism of Archbishop
of Canterbury

The archbishop of York on Saturday rebuked some Anglican traditionalists for what he calls ungracious behavior toward Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

The archbishop of York on Saturday rebuked some Anglican traditionalists for what he calls ungracious behavior toward Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Williams has drawn criticism from both sides in the Anglican Communion's bitter division over the role of gay people in the church, but Archbishop John Sentamu told the Church of England's General Synod that some of the criticism was wide of the mark.

Sentamu, regarded as the second-ranking figure in the Church of England, said it had "grieved me deeply to hear reports of the ungracious personalization of the issues through the criticism and scapegoating of Rowan Williams."

"Rowan Williams exemplifies that quest of holding together holiness, truth, love, and unity," he said. "The accusations and inferences of what has been said by some are not only ungenerous and unwarranted but they describe a person I don't recognize as Rowan. He demonstrates, in his dealings with others, the gift of gracious magnanimity."

Sentamu didn't identify any of the people he was criticizing.

At the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem last month, Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola declared that Williams "was not interested in what matters to us, in what we think, or in what we say."

Gene Robinson, the gay priest whose elevation to bishop of New Hampshire is at the center of the feud, also has criticized Williams.

In an interview with the Church Times newspaper published May 2, Robinson said he wished that Williams had acted strongly against bishops who refused to join at a communion service with the head of the U.S. Episcopal Church because of the gay issue.

"I would like him to have insisted that everyone stay at the table," Robinson said. "I think to absent oneself from the communion table because of the presence of other perceived sinners is blasphemy against the sacrament. And I think if the archbishop of Canterbury had named that for what it was and had called it not just inappropriate but sacrilege, we would be in a better place," Robinson added.

The General Synod is the governing body of the Church of England, composed of three houses: bishops, clergy, and laity. Any business requires approval from all three houses. The General Synod meeting opened Friday and continues through Tuesday.

The most contentious issue on the agenda is to make a preliminary decision about how to deal with dissenters when, as is expected, the Church of England decides to allow women to be bishops.

A committee of bishops has recommended a code of practice to deal with parishes which would not recognize female bishops.

Opponents of women bishops want a more formal structure, a separate diocese within the Church of England, while many advocates of female bishops oppose any special protections for dissenters.

The issue will be debated on Monday, but one delegate said on Saturday that she feared there would be no resolution.

When it first ordained women as priests in 1994, the Church of England provided "flying bishops" to supervise parishes which believed only men could be priests. These dissenters want similar accommodation if women become bishops.

Opponents of the ordination of women argued that Jesus entrusted the church to 12 male disciples.

"My heart tells me that we should find some way of accommodating both sides of the argument. My head tells me that I don't think that any form of accommodation will solve their problem," said Prudence Dailey, from the diocese of Oxford.

She said she believed the church faces a problem of a "circle that simply cannot be squared." (AP)

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