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As the Lambeth Conference gets under way a surprising amount of common ground has been found between parties more used to trenches separated by large tracts of no-mans land. It feels rather like that famous Germany v England football match of Christmas Day 1914- rival protagonists, for now, together between the lines and kicking the same things around.

The cause of this sudden but welcome, and if only partial, cessation of hostilities, is nearly a week of shenanigans and even chicanery around the draft Lambeth Call on Human Sexuality.

There is a consensus that if there was a last minute amendment to the Call behind the backs of the members of the Drafting Group, that was just not cricket (or football).

Team Liberal and Team Conservative were in total agreement that if such an amendment was timed to try and “bounce” the minority that was not fair play.

All called foul at the suggestion that bishops would have the choice to vote for the Call but not to vote it down.

If threats or inducements were in anyway involved that was not playing the game: a level playing field was the least that was required.

That no one seemed to know quite what the rules were, who had made them and whether it was OK to pick-up the ball and run, did not help.

Language might have reached the hyperbolic, even the profane, but that was perhaps understandable given that there were clearly real casualties- injuries caused by a process that was unnecessarily unkind and on a battlefield that did not need to exist.

At best it was agreed that the Lambeth Conference had scored more than one own goal in their mismanagement of the situation which had only served to irritate both the main players and the minor ones. That the officials are incompetent is beyond doubt.

Some in the kick about thought the real issue was power and others that it was authority but all can see there is a bigger game going on.

It would be nice to think that after this saga historic opponents could now at least see each other as good sports but doubtless, in reality, the Christmas Day Truce won’t last long and everyone will return to the trenches… quite possibly to shoot themselves in the foot.

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