"I'm going with hope and apprehension !"
That phrase was said to me by one of our bishops who are on the way to the Lambeth Conference. It is a summary of the very real feeling of all bishops who will attend the first Conference of the 21st century, whose agenda will be marked by the pursuit of a better equipment for the mission. Every effort was made by the Design Group toward better facilitate the coexistence, the study and sharing of experiences among participants, thereby avoiding the character of plenary discussions and votes on divisive theological disputes.
Of course, present issues such as sexuality, environment, women in the episcopate, bioethics, among others will not be left aside. Facing this agenda is part of the challenge that the Church has to interact within the global society. What we hope in this Conference is a change of method and the spirit in which the reflection and the dialogue will be developed .
Certainly, Canterbury is not a place to find victory or defeat. There is not a place for express power and influence. There will not be a place to see who else occupies the spotlight.
We all, in every Province and every diocese around the world, are praying for our bishops. And wishing some very important attitudes from them: firstly, they must listen to the voice of the Spirit. Secondly, they must listen to the world and their pastoral needs. And thirdly they must listen to their own hearts in the presence of God. None of them is demanded to anticipate what each of them interprets about God's will. Canterbury must be a place for hear God's voice!
Usually, bishops tend to be very fast speakers. The charge demands. Statements, guidelines, opinions about everything are demanded from who have the role of supervision. This is part of episcopal ministry. That pressure, however can lead to a difficulty to hear. And therein lies greatest risk to the Church and for society. The risk to be talking about what is not being asked.
This conference is an opportunity to listen much more than to talk. Our prayers for all bishops who will be seeking the strengthening of their offices. Our hope is that the Anglican Communion do not need to become a map where you can see who is more or less orthodox. Our wish is that the Anglican Communion continues to be a beautiful mosaic of colors, sounds, smells and great humility to listen what God is trying to say us about his unconditional love for the humankind!