This week, at their meeting in Alexandria, the primates have been debating the Covenant, a new document that is at the heart of the solution and sets out a Bible-based orthodoxy that the provinces will be invited to sign up to. Some provinces may well refuse to do so. These include Canada, where one diocese, New Westminster, has already authorised same-sex blessings, and another, Toronto, is expected to follow suit within a year.
The Episcopal Church of the US might also have difficulty giving full support to a document that does not do full justice to the ministry of clerics such as Bishop Robinson, now an establishment figure who is friendly with President Obama ”” he prayed the invocation at the start of the inauguration celebrations last month.
The result will be not schism but a two-tier communion, with all provinces in communion with the “mother church” in England and its primate, Dr Rowan Williams, primus inter pares or first among equals, but some having a lesser status and not being in full communion with each other.
At the same time the new “church” formed by conservative evangelicals in the US, led by the deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh, Bob Duncan, which is seeking recognition as a new province, is likely to be granted some extra-provincial status allowing the thousands of Anglicans it represents to remain within the Communion. This would lead to two parallel Anglican provinces operating in the US, one free to pursue its mission of inclusivity including the consecration of bishops of different sexualities, the other mandated to preach its own gospel of what it believes to be “orthodoxy”.
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