Julia Duin of the Washington Times has dug out some responses to the statement by Rowan Williams regarding the actions of General Convention. The headline is “Anglican leader foresees two paths – Archbishop’s essay draws fire”:
“Sadly,” said ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan, “the archbishop of Canterbury has given us another nuanced statement in the midst of a crisis.” He added, “The Communion needs clear leadership at the moment and sadly, others will fill the void.”
The Rev. Phil Ashey, chief operating officer of the American Anglican Council, said the sentiment on the ground is: “Rowan has spoken. So what?”
“Our hopes rose,” he added, when the archbishop first postulated “a very biblical understanding of marriage and what’s permissable and sacramental. Then they were dashed by his opaqueness in everything that followed. “He has abdicated his leadership in surrendering to the two-tier, two-track model of Anglicanism,” he said. “In typically Rowanesque fashion, he has left an open door for the Episcopal Church to dominate.
Archbishop Duncan pointed out that events may overtake Archbishop Williams in that one-quarter of the members of the Church of England’s ruling synod have signed a motion recognizing the ACNA as a separate Anglican province. “So the archbishop of Canterbury is under pressure to do something about us,” he said.
And in a nod to breakaway groups such as the roughly 100,000 former Episcopalians who have joined the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), he wrote that if a province — such as the Episcopal Church, though he did not specify in that paragraph — decides not to adhere to Anglican mores, “any elements within it” can sign on instead, he wrote.
Her reading is highly debatable in at least two respects.
First, ACNA and AAC not within The Episcopal Church. What he is referring to are churches and dioceses within The Episcopal Church such as members of the Communion Partners. (Aside: And there there is doubt that the canons and constitution of TEC would permit this.)
Second, he is referring to adherence to an Anglican Covenant which is in the works. In his view,
The Covenant proposals of recent years have been a serious attempt to do justice to that aspect of Anglican history that has resisted mere federation. They seek structures that will express the need for mutual recognisability, mutual consultation and some shared processes of decision-making. They are emphatically not about centralisation but about mutual responsibility. They look to the possibility of a freely chosen commitment to sharing discernment (and also to a mutual respect for the integrity of each province, which is the point of the current appeal for a moratorium on cross-provincial pastoral interventions).
ACNA and AAC are cross-provincial interventions.
The Covenant, in Williams’ view, is not a tool to be used to discipline provinces. It is for those provinces that wish to be part of something that is more than what the Anglican Communion is (a “mere federation”). Since provinces of all stripes guard their independence it remains to be seen whether any will opt into the Covenant — and that includes the Church of England and the Church of Nigeria.