I have had my own disappointments and outright disagreements with Canterbury’s chosen course of action at various points over the last few years, and I have shared this with him personally. Where some have urged a “bolder” response to TEC, within the limits of his ecclesial and moral authority, I have urged the same thing. But I categorically reject the charges made here that he has set about to undermine agreements made among the Primates, as at Dar es Salaam, or to manipulate and ignore legal processes such as those in place at the ACC last May.
In the first instance, RW was personally a key player (not the only one) at getting the Dar agreement nominally accepted, through face to face persuasion on the floor, as it were. That has been stated by several GS primates present at the time. But the agreement was also made possible by the compromise work of primates who were not personally disposed to aspects of its content, e.g. Australia. The Dar agreement, in other words, was intrinsically fragile, based as it was on temporary dynamics and uncertain internal commitments. The sense of Lambeth, it soon became apparent, was that its prosecution was thereby vulnerable from the start, and at the first sign of withdrawal of strong support outside of the meeting, Lambeth decided that pressing the agreement concretely would be counterproductive to the agreements actual aims. These “signs” included TEC and AMiA both immediately rejecting key provisions, and their allies quickly standing behind them.
I believe that RW gave up too quickly, choosing instead (as he has consistently done) to rebuild alternative consensus for change through other groups (e.g. the Windsor Continuation Group). This is fair game to debate and criticize, it seems to me. But the notion that RW was the skunk in the patch here is, to put it bluntly, a matter of sinners throwing stones. The Primates Meeting had already proved to be, in certain respects, a place where bishops behaved badly, and the fact that it was judged to be a weak reed should surprise no one. I don’t believe it needed to be left at this place, but again, that is matter for debate.
As for the ACC, we all know that the running of this meeting was a procedural disaster that has set back the ACC’s credibility enormously, fanning the flames of suspicion by all and sundry. No one can mitigate that loss of trust or the justifications in general for that loss. But there is a long way between such generally well-founded worries about the ACC’s ability to do its job fairly and well, and condemning this or that individual with deliberate and malicious intent. “Manipulation” there was, I would think, although any precise assessment of blame is not possible to come by. And Canterbury’s role in this demonstrates confusion””albeit deeply regrettable confusion””rather than strategic subversion. Furthermore, the outcome with respect to the Covenant strikes me as a sign of recognition of this fact: amazingly expeditious revision, and starkly restrained in its focus. People don’t seem to admit mistakes much anymore in public; but the manner of this outcome adds up to an admission of sorts. That is my read of the matter, and I don’t think it is particularly pollyannish. Not, that is, in the face of the anti-Stalinists and anti-Czarists faced off against each other.
I remain convinced that those leaders””bishops, clergy, and laity””who can order their service to the church for the long haul, steadily and solidly faithful, ordered, engaged in commonly established processes of ecclesial life, honest and charitable, and perseverant in their commitments within and for the sake of the people shared (not just locally), will prevail. That is a promise of the Lord, it seems, to “those who endure to the end”. People like Abps. Chew and Mouneer Anis presently, or Gomez recently; and others. And, for all my concerns about this and that, Rowan Williams too has demonstrated a perserverence that is bound to his faith in Christ Jesus as Lord, and not to self-interest. From that certainly I can be strengthened. So should others be, whether or not they can affirm his decisions in this or that particular matter.