But aren't you suggesting the Episcopal Church has become a kind of "punching bag" for conservatives? Shouldn't one of these dissenting primates stand up and say, "We're not going to keep doing this."?
I do think that truth is happening in a much fuller way. I felt truth happening here in Texas, and I felt that some things were named in the primates meeting that we were reluctant to name before.
I spoke very frankly about where these pieces of paper came from, and why are these people down the road in constant communication with various of you, and whose agenda is this? Who is determining our agenda?
Have any of these primates apologized and said they're going to stop?
It will be interesting to see what happens in the light of the new statement from Texas.
What is the significance of that statement?
First of all, it represents an incredible convergence of wide-ranging opinions that have come together in a desire to find common ground. What I see in the covenant is that the "diverse center" has spoken clearly. The second point is that it is a genuine effort to meet some of the Anglican Communion's concerns, and in trying to meet those straightforwardly.
Do you think your opposition views it similarly?
At this point I have no idea where, as you put it, the"opposition" may be in regard to the covenant. I do know that people on both sides of the aisle really came together in this, and we received a very encouraging note from the Archbishop of Canterbury which communicated from his perspective that we have met some of his concerns.
The House of Bishops seemed to be extending an olive branch by saying the Episcopal Church won't consecrate any openly gay bishops, in fact any bishops, and you won't sanction any same-sex blessings, until after you make decisions at the next General Convention in 2006. At the same time, you said that you want the Developing World bishops to stay out of the Episcopal Church's affairs. Do you expect they'll comply?
I certainly trust it's taken seriously. I think that by and large the bishops in the Anglican Communion really do respect boundaries. The interventions, though highly newsworthy, have been relatively few.
In last year's interview you said the church's crisis isn't all it appears on the surface because the African and Asian primates are in difficult spots. They have to deal with the power of Islam in their countries-particularly in Africa--and so they present a public view and a private view of the American church. What is the state of play among those primates today?
When we arrived in Ireland there was a great deal of tension but as the meeting went along, there were all sorts of relationships of friendship. One Asian primate got up and said how offended he felt, not just by the Episcopal Church, but by the West and its policies toward the East--and after he finished he came up to me and said, "You know I wasn't talking about you personally. Are we still friends?" and I said "Of course we're friends." Things move on a public level, where a primate must represent the prevailing view of his province. And then there's the personal level, where friendships are very deep and understanding is very broad. We all understand that we minister in very specific contexts. We all have to deal with pressures both from the culture and within our own communites of faith.
You say you are trying to understand their situations; are they trying to understand yours?
Many of the primates are. They're really struggling to understand. I've been asked a number of questions about the homosexual reality by primates who weren't simply angry; they were trying to make sense of it from their own perspective. It's a topic they really hadn't engaged before, and I think it's important to note that in many parts of the world, open conversations about sexuality in any form simply isn't on the table. HIV/AIDS has forced it to the table in a number of places, but something as complicated as homosexuality is not something that can be engaged at this point.
How is the struggle over globalization and American foreign policy involved in this struggle?
Often the Episcopal church is wrapped into antagonism toward American foreign policy or the imposition of various elements of American culture that are seen as undermining the integrity of the culture in other parts of the world. The Episcopal Church by virtue of being an entity within the United States is seen as being part of this mix.
You preached a sermon in Belfast last month saying that Christians must be willing to take risks and "push off" into the unknown. Was the sermon a reflection of your new approach to the crisis?