Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a statement after the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. In my humble opinion, it is well written and clear – even within the reality that so many things are still in flux with regard to the Communion and its integrity.
Here is a link to the Archbishop’s statement.
Here are a couple interesting paragraphs that deal with the idea of a two-tiered or “two-track” structure that may end up developing. The specific sentence I think couches the concerns of the Archbishop deals with “who speaks for whom.” Within the Communion and with regard to our ecumenical relationships, it must be established that in negotiations and communications that is a voice of the Anglican Communion. Here are the paragraphs:

22 It is possible that some will not choose this way of intensifying relationships [signing on to the final Covenant], though I pray that it will be persuasive. It would be a mistake to act or speak now as if those decisions had already been made – and of course approval of the final Covenant text is still awaited. For those whose vision is not shaped by the desire to intensify relationships in this particular way, or whose vision of the Communion is different, there is no threat of being cast into outer darkness – existing relationships will not be destroyed that easily. But it means that there is at least the possibility of a twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance: that is, a ‘covenanted’ Anglican global body, fully sharing certain aspects of a vision of how the Church should be and behave, able to take part as a body in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; and, related to this body, but in less formal ways with fewer formal expectations, there may be associated local churches in various kinds of mutual partnership and solidarity with one another and with ‘covenanted’ provinces.
23. This has been called a ‘two-tier’ model, or, more disparagingly, a first- and second-class structure. But perhaps we are faced with the possibility rather of a ‘two-track’ model, two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage, one of which had decided that local autonomy had to be the prevailing value and so had in good faith declined a covenantal structure. If those who elect this model do not take official roles in the ecumenical interchanges and processes in which the ‘covenanted’ body participates, this is simply because within these processes there has to be clarity about who has the authority to speak for whom. [emphasis mine]
24. It helps to be clear about these possible futures, however much we think them less than ideal, and to speak about them not in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication but plainly as what they are – two styles of being Anglican, whose mutual relation will certainly need working out but which would not exclude co-operation in mission and service of the kind now shared in the Communion. It should not need to be said that a competitive hostility between the two would be one of the worst possible outcomes, and needs to be clearly repudiated. The ideal is that both ‘tracks’ should be able to pursue what they believe God is calling them to be as Church, with greater integrity and consistency. It is right to hope for and work for the best kinds of shared networks and institutions of common interest that could be maintained as between different visions of the Anglican heritage. And if the prospect of greater structural distance is unwelcome, we must look seriously at what might yet make it less likely.

In earlier paragraphs, he dealt with the issues of same-sex relationships and the ability to be in ecclesial leadership (clergy, particularly bishops). As he said, historically and within the tradition the same rule should apply for heterosexuals and homosexuals – at this point within the universal Church sexual relationships outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony (a “lifestyle”) does not allow for ecclesial leadership. Holy Matrimony being between a man and a woman, as the Church Catholic currently and historically understands such things.
The Church Catholic has not changed its mind on this, even though several local Churches are in the process of changing. They are vanguards, and perhaps in the forefront of the coming universal change of understanding. The interesting thing is that within England, the Archbishop’s current understanding may place him in opposition with a good part of his own Church. Is he intending on enforcing such a policy for the sake of integrity, and if he is what happens if under Establishment the Parliament or the Queen dictate otherwise? Will Rowan, I wonder, go the route of Newman? I don’t know… I don’t think his personal theological opinion has changed with regard to the possibility of same-sex relationships, but in his position he has to deal with far more and has to plow a middle way that in the end satisfies no one.
So much of all this mess deals with the means by which we pursue what we want – the end goal. I am so disappointed in the attitudes of many people and the means by which my Church is pursuing what I think in the end is correct and right. The end goal is not so much the important thing, but we will be judged according to the way we acted during the process – the means. Coming from this former American-Evangelical, I can say that my primary thought is the grounding of a Catholic understanding of things, even if in the shorter term (or even the mid-term), I don’t get what I want. But, how long to continue to wait is an important and palpable question.