His ego is a mountainous thing, almost insurmountable for [the American diocese seeking "alternate primatial oversight"]. When I was attending the US Episcopal church's general convention in Ohio a fortnight ago, one conservative told me: "It's not so much what he says but the fact that he doesn't tell us in advance what he's going to say, so we can tell him not to."Ah, it would be nice to have a Presiding Bishop who did what you asked, wouldn't it? Is that what this is all about?
And while Archbishop Williams solemnly gives "the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation," ArchBishop Akinola has a very different point of view:
Even Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney sees the need to distance himself from some of Akinola's more extreme remarks about homosexuals being worse than beasts, in an interview this week on Australian radio.In fact, here is where the question lies with the entire Communion: who, finally, gets to decide what it means to be in this Communion? The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding has his opinions, but he never quite takes this reality into account:
But what about something conservative evangelicals such as Archbishop Jensen would quite like, such as lay presidency - the administration of Communion by laymen, not ordained clergy? Would that be permitted, or would Archbishop Akinola - or someone else - have the last word on how they do things in Sydney? Fine, if it was something he approved, or could be persuaded to support, but what if not? Does everything have to move at the speed of the slowest, theologically, culturally, socially? That's a sure recipe for losing touch: in Archbishop Williams's words: "We have a special relationship with the cultural life of our country and we must not fall out of step with this if we are not to become absurd and incredible." He said that, of course, before he became Archbishop of Canterbury.And in case you doubt it's about control, not orthodoxy or doctrinal purity:
The bishops of Nigeria are already demanding that those same liberals should be excised like a cancer from the body of the church. Their primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola, criticised Dr Williams's letter even before he had read it. And some liberals, here and in the US, are beginning to ask themselves whether the worldwide Anglican communion is such a worthwhile body to belong to after all."Unhelpful", of course, depends on what your goal is.
Akinola has already begun the process of anointing his own representative in the US, the Rev Martyn Minns (the English evangelical who ministers to a church in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC) as a bishop of the Nigerian church, putatively to lead like-minded conservatives in America - a move described by Lambeth as unhelpful. Not sure what Minns's rivals, such as the Rev David Anderson of the conservative American Anglican Council, or Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, for that matter, think of that, but at least Minns, after several failed attempts to get a mitre in an American diocese, has now achieved one from Africa.