The whole of Archbishop Williams letter to the Primates is available here. I am excerpting several lines for comment.
He writes, "There was no questioning at our meeting of the fact that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 remains the standard of teaching on matters of sexual morality for the Communion."
The constant reminder that Resolution 1.10 is "the standard of teaching" does nothing for the truth. The truth is that the Primates (and they alone) have determined that what Lambeth said in this resolution carries the stamp of definitive proclamation - it has become a defining statement regarding orthodox Anglicanism. This resolution has acquired such status that it will not be revisited at the next Lambeth Conference, cannot be countered without being considered a "communion breaker," and has status in this regard that is entirely out of line with reason, tradition and even scripture. It has become an Anglican idol.
So perhaps the first thing to challenge is this standard, and attack it at it core. But, I am afraid I do not see our Bishops doing this.
The ABC then writes, "To address these requests (for clarification of assent to Lambeth 1.1o) to the American House of Bishops is not to ignore the polity of The Episcopal Church, but to acknowledge that the bishops have a key role, acknowledged in the Constitution of that church, in authorising liturgies within their dioceses and in giving consent to the election of candidates for episcopal order. " What the Archbishop does not seem to understand that IF (and it is a big if) the Bishops were to come to an unequivocal covenant not to give consent, that covenant would itself spell the end of synodical governance in which the baptized have authority.
Then the ABC begins to reveal more than perhaps he wished to:
"A clear response on these questions is also needed in the near future: we cannot wait for another General Convention for further clarification. A readiness by the leadership of The Episcopal Church to live by that same formal standard of teaching on these matters which applies elsewhere in the Communion is perhaps the first and most important step in the way forward."
The matter of time, namely September 30, 2007, is somehow central. Why is it that "we cannot wait for another General Convention."? The answer is unfortunately fairly obvious. Because he has been given an ultimatum. The Church of Nigeria is only waiting until September before determining if it will ordain new bishops for CANA. Unless we give in, Nigeria will go forward. With Bishops Minns and Bena on board already, things are in place for a new Anglican Church in the US, this time in communion with Nigeria and perhaps others.
When the Archbishop later states, "...interventions in the jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church will be able to cease once there is sufficient provision within The Episcopal Church for the adequate pastoral care of such congregations" he is speaking with this same timetable in mind. He has very little time to act. If the bishops don't act with unequivocal compliance to Lambeth 1.10, others will act to further interventions, and indeed with a new American Anglican church. So he needs both compliance and alternative pastoral care in place prior to September 30, 2007.
The Pastoral Council scheme proposed by the Primates must the be developed very quickly. The ABC wants nominations by Friday, 16 March.He then writes that "I am also in communication with the Presiding Bishop and the bishops identified in the Camp Allen correspondence to encourage the proposals developed at Dar es Salaam to be taken with all seriousness and dispatch. The practical question of how the Pastoral Council will be properly resourced and financed is of course central to this."
Well there the skunk is on the table. He writes the Presiding Bishop and the Camp Allen Bishops to get these proposals underway quickly...and then he raises the question of resources and finances. Since this wee paragraph is addressed to The Episcopal Church (its PB and some of its Bishops) I suppose he intends that The Episcopal Church should pay for the Pastoral Council, the Primatial Vicar, etc, and that right quickly.
We can only wonder the pressures the Archbishop is under, but more we can wonder the more if he is grasping at some final hope to avoid the realities of the Anglican future. Those realities will require greater provisionality, greater willingness to live with difference, and not less.
I believe there is indeed hope for Anglicanism in the future, and it does not belong with those who make idols of "standards" or who find broken communion a thing to be savored as an opportunity for mission.
It is time for the Archbishop to stop worrying about time. There is always plenty of time for dinner, and the Lord will invite who he wills. There is plenty of time to get there, for we know we will be welcome whenever we come. Everything else will sort itself out.