Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Word from Archbishop Williams

From Rowan Williams recently in Egypt:

As I said to them [some of the "Global South" bishops?] this morning, the process that the Windsor report requested is still incomplete and I think it is premature to offer an assessment.

That's putting Eames' comments in a rather new light. For all that he said, he might for all we know be referring to (A) the Global South's notable failure to engage in the listening precess called for in Lambeth '98 and the Windsor Report, a nearly complete failure leaving the WR process woefully incomplete indeed. Or one might take a more cynical view (B): Eames and Williams are tacitly working together, bad cop/good cop style, doing what needs to be done to keep the Anglican Communion together for at least a while longer.

Well, I think neither assessment above is correct; Williams is indeed working with Eames, but shifting Eames' emphasis a bit to focus on the concept of covenant. They really seem to mean it--not as a cynical ploy, but as a substantgive development. ABC News reports:

He said such a demand [for a convergence of canons] might be met through implementing a proposal to set up a "covenant" between member churches.

That is, without a covenant-making process arising out of the reception of the Windsor Report, the response to it is incomplete--it will have failed to do its job, ceteris paribus. For whatever reasons, the covenant concept is not getting the degree of serious press Williams and Eames have called for--on either the right or the left. There is no call here for ECUSA to go back from GC2003; not on the table. And the listening process--well, it is probably hopeless to expect the schismatic "Global South" to take any sincere steps in that direction; hence Williams doesn't even bring it up. It's not on the table either. The issue for Williams seems to be, Where do we go from here, given we will not undo what has been done up to this point?

But frankly, it seems to me the covenant idea is a non-starter. ECUSA should take it up and underline it in bold caps as the way forward; we have already engaged in similar projects with the ELCA, and it seems fitting at least to view other Anglican provincial churches in a similar light: as suitable partners for explicit covenants. In short, CUIC (or COCU) applied to the AC.

But the schismatic tone of the "Global South"--which appears much more hesitant to crown Akinola than I had thought--and its fellow travelers in the affluent West on the one hand, and on the other hand the heavy emphasis of the affluent West on abrasive notions of social justice, has produced unprecedented bad feelings and mistrust, mistrust of a sort never felt between ECUSA and ELCA. Alas--where to go from here indeed.


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