Well, the long awaited Windsor Report was released this last Monday, the document whose goal it is to hold the Anglican communion together. My pessimistic predictions were not realized. I thought this was a document which aimed at punishment of the Episcopal Church for it's inclusion of gay and lesbians. My reliance on conservative Anglican sites for news on this unfolding drama led me to think that perhaps even expulsion was imminent. But as the primate of Ireland who lead the commission noted "you cannot impose reconciliation".
Instead of dealing with the thorny issue of sexuality which has divided the church, the report's focus is on those measures which might allow the communion to hold together. It's focus was on preventing practices which have alienated different provinces from each other. Liberals received a call to provide theological justification for gay and lesbian ordination. It also asks for a moratorium on such ordinations until the issue is worked out within the communion.
Apologies for actions which have caused deeper divisions on both sides are required as well. The efforts to cross diocesan lines as conservative congregations are using outside bishops against their liberal leadership is not permissable either. Instead the oversight plans the Episcopal Church already has in place which works with the bishop of the given diocese needs to be followed. Efforts to demonize gays and lesbians are also rejected. And there is a call for all sides to use temperate language.
The report does have the feel of a school teacher reprimanding the kids in the playground, something which is captured beautifuly in cartoon form. The disturbing part of the report includes a future proposal whereby the church will produce some essential teachings which will require all the provinces of the communion to sign on to. The proposal if adopted would move the church closer to catholicism and away from it's own heritage.
But perhaps my pessimism was not entirely uncalled for given the reactions of church leaders around the world. Liberals welcomed the report and have begun the process of apologizing coupeling it with calls for discussion while reaffirming the stance of openness to gay and lesbians within the church. Conservatives have criticized much of the report, especially it's failure to punish the Episcopal church and it's closing the door to alternative religious structures outside of the ecusa. Can both sides reside in the same church?
Griswold speaks about dialogue while Akinola speaks about punishing those who "subvert the faith". The ideal for one side is that all are included in the church. An example is Gene Robinson who makes a telling point "I want Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria in my church. I just wish he could want me in his church." But the right sees liberals as anti-Christians who need to be rooted out of the church. A quote capturing such sentiments "Gene Robinson and I worship different gods...so I can have no association whatsoever, even on an entirely theoretical level, with Robinson or anyone who agrees with him" That's the words that no report can fix.