Ruth Gledhill says to the Anglican Communion Institute and the 15 bishops “Sorry bishops, but a diocese is not a church.”
(See this, this, this and this, if you haven’t already.)
She recalls how Archbishop Williams wrote an e-mail to Bishop Howe of Central Florida and that his e-mail is at the bottom of the some of the thinking in the ACI statement.
The base the authority for this on a letter written in 2007 by Dr Rowan Williams in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury to one of the 15, Central Florida’s John Howe, leaked at the time to TitusOneNine.
Dr Williams wrote: ‘The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such. Those who are rushing into separatist solutions are, I think, weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing – which is why I continue to hope and pray for the strengthening of the bonds of mutual support among those Episcopal Church Bishops who want to be clearly loyal to Windsor.’
But that was then and this is now, she says:
Apparently the sands have shifted. That letter to Howe was written in 2007. Now is 2009, nearly two whole years later. The covenant is in its third draft and there can be no doubt, reading it, that when it speaks of ‘church’, as it does many times, it means a national church, or a province.
She cites a source she has spoken with who says that things have moved on, and besides you can’t have both an authoritative covenant and free-floating dioceses at one and the same time.
I have it on good authority that things are deemed to have moved on rather substantially, but some things cannot change, otherwise we truly will not be a ‘proper church’, not even an ecclesial community, but just a rather drippy federation.
There is absolutely no way the ACI bishops will be enabled to perform some sort of subtle non-schismatic ecclesiological split manoeuvre on The Episcopal Church, leaving their orthodox dioceses at the centre of a covenental Communion along with Cantuar and the conservatives, with the liberal pro-gay majority forced to dance around on the edges in some ‘outer circle’ of recognition.
Whichever side you’re on, either you’re for them or against them, folks. It just will not be possible for either side to have it both ways if the Covenant is to work. It’s called having your communion and eating it too.
Read it all here.