UPDATE: It is not now clear what is the status of the letters referred to below. If they have been written they have not been posted. But have they been written? Baby Blue broke the news, and Ruth Gledhill provides the confirmation. LATER UPDATE: the letters have been written, according to a George Conger report, but they appear to have the air of 'Let me remind you that I have said when you come to the staff meeting you must be prepared to discuss the agenda for the meeting and not bring another agenda, Yours the Headmaster'.[End of update].
According to a paper delivered by +Tom Wright at a Fulcrum conference in London a few days ago, letters are in the post from ++Rowan Williams to bishops somehow measured to be less than enthusiastic about the Windsor Report ...
"When the Archbishop issued his invitations, he made it clear as I said that their basis was Windsor and the Covenant as the tools to shape our future common life. That invitation was issued only three months after the remarkable joint statement from the Primates issued in Tanzania in February 2007. After a summer and autumn of various tangled and unsatisfactory events, the Archbishop then wrote an Advent pastoral letter in which he reiterated the terms of his initial invitation and declared that he would be writing to those bishops who might be thought particularly unsympathetic to Windsor and the Covenant to ask them whether they were really prepared to build on this dual foundation. Those letters, I understand, are in the post as we speak, written with apostolic pain and heart-searching but also with apostolic necessity. I am well aware that many will say this is far too little, far too late - just as many others will be livid to think that the Archbishop, having already not invited Gene Robinson to Lambeth, should be suggesting that some others might absent themselves as well. But this is what he promised he would do, and he is doing it. If I know anything about anything, I know that he deserves our prayers at this most difficult and fraught moment in the run-up to Lambeth itself." (My emboldening)
Its always tricky, if not embarrassing, trying to withdraw an invitation. Is that precisely what the ABC is up to? Or is it a little more "English" in its gentlemanliness ... would you possibly consider the concept of readdressing your approach to the Windsor Report, old boy/old girl?
And what is he trying to achieve? Does Lambeth get better with less (GAFCON-only bishops out) and less (Windsor-phobic stay away) bishops? Perhaps. Its hard to tell. But there are some voices - I think my own is quietly there as well - which assess that we have now got to a point in the convolutions where all should be there, none should be left out. Yet Anglicanism always involves respect for episcopal wisdom. The sharia-episode excepted ++Rowan seems to know what he is doing. Perhaps he is making the point that the future of the Communion can only be around some well defined written theology which for now has to be the Windsor Report (Oliver O'Donovan's 'only game in town') and eventually will be the Covenant.
Watch this development!