from the Notebook column of The Tablet, 15 August 1998
What did the official Roman Catholic observers make of the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference? When Cardinal Cassidy left after the first five days, there remained four other Catholic observers: Bishop Pierre Duprey from the Vatican, who is secretary of the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity; Fr Timothy Galligan, an Englishman working with Anglicans for the same council; Bishop Philip Pargeter, auxiliary of Birmingham of chairman of the English and Welsh bishops' committee for Christian unity; and Archbishop Alexander Brunett of Seattle, chairman of the United States' bishops' committee for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs.
Archbishop Brunett's reactions, which he offered to The Tablet, were mixed. "We worked very hard, there was no free time, " he said, "and a lot of people here are fatigued and tired. But I think there is a great bonding that went on. You are in a bible study with someone for three weeks and each day you are probing the Word of God: you begin to learn about their lives, their ups and downs, and they learn about yours, and you go away saying 'Gee it's a shame I'm never going to see that person again.'"
The conference had been a "good learning experience", he said. What had he learned? That "the Episcopal Church in America is not typical of the Anglican Communion. It tends to be more liberal; it tends to be less rooted in the Bible. A lot of the bishops that I was with in my sessions were very anti the Episcopal Church in America. They thought that they were a group out there doing their own thing. They see it as a reflection of the way Americans are, economically trying to control the world."
The reaction of Africans in the homosexuality debate had been a key example of this clash. Archbishop Brunett recounted what one African bishop had said to him: "One hundred years ago you people came to my country carrying the Bible, and you told us, 'This is the Word of salvation,' and we believed you and we lived what the Bible said. In Uganda, 42 of our people were murdered by the king because they would not submit to sodomy: that's why homosexuality is a very important issue to us - we have given our life
on this issue."
What he was saying, according to Brunett, was: "We cannot evangelise if you take the Bible out of our hands."