Saturday, August 2, 2008

Henry, go to your room

Who would have imagined that I would ever agree with The Telegraph? Little card-carrying Christian socialist me, agreeing with the most right wing of Britain's "quality" papers. The one formerly owned by Conrad, Lord Black of the Florida Department of Corrections. The paper that makes Canada's National Post sound like New Democratic Party apologists.

But here we are. I find myself in complete agreement with The Telegraph.

And I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

The story doesn't begin at The Telegraph. It actually begins at the Times of London on Friday, when the Primate of Uganda, Henry Orombi, was a featured guest columnist.

Well, arguably, the story begins much earlier than that, back when Henry Orombi, Peter Akinola and the rest of "the usual suspects" tried to blackmail Rowan Williams by declaring that they would boycott the Lambeth Conference if any of those horrible North Americans were allowed through the door.

Rowan, made of sterner stuff than some realized, didn't submit to their edict. He invited all the legitimate North American bishops - well, all but one.

The refuseniks couldn't climb down, so here they are. Or rather, here they aren't.

But they have attempted time and again to disrupt the Conference they declined to attend and which they described as irrelevant.

It has been a mixed effort, under the careful management of orchestra leader Chris Sugden (or rather, The Reverend Canon Doctor Sugden as he prefers to be known). Chris is the leader of a group of fundamentalist evangelicals in the UK who amusingly pretend that they are the Anglican Mainstream.

Chris has orchestrated a series of metaphorical roadside bombs in his efforts to blow up the Conference. The two most significant IEMs (Improvised Explosive Missives) were the GAFFEPRONE attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Communion and the XXIth century signed by all the usual suspects - including at least one who said he hadn't signed ( I wrote about that one here) - and yesterday's Times of London hatchet job by Orombi (you can read his venomous screed here).

So, what did The Telegraph say that was so brilliant?

Well, you can the read the piece from their religion editor's blog here. But it is so good (and sufficiently brief) that I'd like to share it with you in it's entirety.

George Pitcher
Lambeth Conference: Uganda chips in

Thursday, July 31, 2008, 05:51 PM GMT

I bump into a senior church figure near the Conference's Marketplace, a hangar behind the Sports Centre where you can get dressed as a bishop and buy all their books. I ask him what he makes of remarks from Henri Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, about the Archbishop of Canterbury being little better than a remnant of colonialism and, unlike the Pope, being unelected and appointed by a secular government.

My eminent friend looks distant for a moment. "It's Orombi's way of getting into the conference," he replies. "If he's got something to say to us, he should have come here to say it. It's a sign of how frustrated the boycotters are that the Anglican Communion is getting on with its business without them. And it's a very childish response."

Sounds about right. To which one might add that Dr Orombi's talk is of colonialism and the removal of authority from the Archbishopric of Canterbury. So it's good to know for certain now that all the protestations from the alternative conference Gafcon about the boycott not being an African power-play, but rather a claim for authentic Christian witness based on biblical authority, are worth about as much as the Archbishop of Uganda's respect for his fellow bishops.

"A very childish response."

Yes, that does sound about right.

Weeks of people who refused to show their faces trying to control the agenda from afar.

Weeks of people who don't have the integrity to tell people off to their face lobbing bitchy letters, desperately pretending to be relevant.

The thing is, the GAFFEPRONE boycott is a failure.

They have failed to control the conference.

They've had some limited success in running the media coverage - but that is less a function of their own scheming than a failure of the inept media relations put in place by feckless Lambeth Palace officials.

The Potemkin Village which is GAFFECON suffered several blows over the course of the Conference as it emerged that only two Provinces (Uganda and Nigeria) were able to keep their people home - and that only by threats and intimidation - including reported threats against one bishop's wife.

They have failed.

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