But it is time to be serious. I think the sharpness of the responses to Rowan Williams is a turning point in recent events. Suddenly, now, these Primates are in open disagreement like never before. The diplomacy (and reservation) is being dropped.
Rowan Williams, basically, has overstepped his authority and has pushed too far. We see what he has tried to do: he has tried to get away with this by evening out the punishment by saying all breakers of the moratoria he recognises (but others may not) will get the punishment, including the boundary breakers. Some doubt this evenness is what will actually happen. Fred Hiltz said:
One is left wondering if provinces whose Primates continue to interfere in the internal life of other provinces and extend their pastoral jurisdiction through cross-border interventions will be contacted. To date I have seen no real measure to address that concern within The Communion.
Further more he is acting early: there is no Covenant! Says Fred Hiltz:
As you will have detected I have some significant concerns about imposing discipline consistent with provisions in the Covenant before it is even adopted...
What has also grated is the call by the Archbishop of Canterbury to duplicity, where he says:
I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies...
This seems to be a call to dishonesty, because those who also do but don't admit it (like in his own Church) get away with it, whereas those moving towards inclusion openly, who preach what they practice, get punished. Now we all know about credal and theological duplicity, and perhaps Rowan Williams can see nothing wrong in formal dishonesty but others think this really is a step too far, when the punishment is to be dished out.
It is the lack of reservation in the language of response that is so clear (KJS):
We are distressed at the apparent imposition of sanctions on some parts of the Communion...
We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviours in private.
Williams maintains that Section 4 is not to exclude, when clearly by his own words it is - it has to do something if "actions have consequences" and, in his proposal, it silences.
But look at the sharpness of the replies. Bishop Schori doesn't leave any room for doubt:
...the fourth section seems to be just that [an instrument of control] to Anglicans in many parts of the Communion.
Fred Hiltz takes a bit longer to say the same:
These consequences could range from limited participation to suspension from dialogues, commissions and councils within the Communion. In my opinion, they reflect principles of exclusion with which many in the Communion are very uneasy. For if one is excluded from a table, how can one be part of a conversation?
Bishop Schori also makes a direct appeal to the ecumenical arena, one area where The Episcopal Church would be silenced as 'unrepresentative' of Anglicanism.
The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.
She even lectures Williams on English Church history, although she makes a hamfist of it when it comes to Scotland, and her interpretation of the Synod of Whitby is open to debate (arguably Celtic Christianity was squashing and stealing Celtic paganism never mind a uniformity from Augustine). That is surely remarkable. She accuses him of colonialism:
We also recognize that the attempts to impose a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity...
...We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures...
...we note the troubling push toward centralized authority exemplified in many of the statements of the recent Pentecost letter.
This is nevertheless a direct challenge to the Williams view that a singular message must override local culture if local culture swamps the singular position, and a direct identification of his Pentecost letter with his centralising tendencies.
Will she take the punishment? No she won't:
...we will continue to seek every opportunity to increase our partnership in God’s mission... and the myriad of less formal and more local partnerships across the Communion – efforts in mission and ministry that inform and transform individuals and communities...
There is no centre to dish out punishments to provinces in Anglicanism. The decision making centres are the Churches. As with divorce, or ordaining women, each province either gets on with it or resists what it does not want. There are competing Anglicanisms now, because there have been crossings of borders, but they amount to little more than a myriad of continuing Anglicanisms that existed before. Let them get on with it. When someone leaves your Church to join a competing one, you tend to remove the licence. They might be considered bishops, priests or whatever by others or even everyone in Anglicanism, it's just that they left and having left they take the consequences.
That's how to deal with it. Williams's strategy is a non-Anglican innovation of centralisation.