Jim Naughton offers a clarifying piece over at Episcopal Cafe today:
Reflecting on Rowan Williams’ letter wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time; writing it was not a worthwhile use of his. The issues at stake have become so trivial—We are not debating right and wrong, we are debating whether there should be trifling penalties for giving offense to other members of the Communion.—that to engage them at all compromises our moral standing and diminishes our ability to speak credibly on issues of real importance.
This isn’t to say that we don’t have to make a decision about whether to accede to the archbishop’s proposal—and I suppose I think that we shouldn’t because it would only encourage him to make other such requests—just that whether we accede or not make very little difference to the world, to the Communion, to our ecumenical partners, to our church, or even to a Communion news junky like me.
Which is why I was of no use to the reporters I spoke to on Friday afternoon; because, God bless them, they had to write stories based on the mistaken notion that all of this stuff still matters, and increasingly, it does not. In attempting to ram through a covenant that marginalizes the laity and centralizes authority in fewer hands, Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.
I can't imagine this being more clearly stated. The fact that The Archbishop of Canterbury has very limited authority to act is not a problem, but a blessing. The Communion, after all, is not the domain of prelates, as some would have it, but a fellowship of churches made up of millions of people in real, embodied relationships around common mission. And that common mission is not fundamentally about who's ordaining whom, but about who's fed, healed, and nurtured in the grace of God. This is what we have to offer a world in need, and what our leadership is called to nurture.
The rest is largely window dressing.