His teachings at the Lambeth Conference in 2008 were outstanding, as noted here and here. At the same time, the Conference fell apart on his watch, due to the hopeless attempt to apply the open-ended, take-as-much-time-as-required, Zulu conciliar process of indaba in a gathering of six hundred people over just a few days, as observed here. While his attempts to keep everyone at the table can be laudable, and although his charitableness and status as a primus inter pares has been grossly abused by a majority of the bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA), his actions at times have been (until now, at least) nonetheless perplexing and inexplicable.
Yesterday, thanks to the circulation of a letter addressed to him by the Most Reverend Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, more of the full picture has become clear -- and it is not pretty. The letter was released on a Friday, and while no response can be expected over the weekend, it is difficult to imagine the only response that would be appropriate: ++Cantuar's convening a meeting of the Primates before May 15, a meeting to which the primates of the United States and Canada would not be invited.
A replay of what occurred in October 2003, just before the consecration of Bishop Robinson, would thus be avoided. However, from the explanation of certain events given in ++Orombi's letter, it is now clear that the Anglican Communion has been hijacked. It is in the hands of those who are prepared to accommodate the consecration of partnered gays and lesbians as bishops of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. To put a halt to the silent march of events, ++Cantuar himself is either too weak, or else too sympathetic -- and perhaps he is both at the same time.
The so-called "Instruments of Unity" may now be seen for what they are: those that are corruptible, like the Anglican Consultative Council, its secretariat and its Standing Committee, have been thoroughly corrupted. Those that are not so easily corrupted -- the Primates' Meeting, and the Lambeth Conference -- have been marginalized, and rendered ineffective. (The latter, as noted, was indabaed into incoherence; the former last met more than a year ago, and unless a special meeting is called, will not convene again before February 2011.)
The process of remaking the Anglican Consultative Council into a compliant charity under UK law was on a simultaneous track with the Covenant process -- but both were too slow, and events have now overtaken them. As the Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll suspected, and as ++Orombi's letter discloses, the staff of the ACC were on their way to bringing the entire Communion and the implementation of its Covenant into the hands of just a central "Standing Committee", on which there was a majority of primates who were sympathetic to the program. The control by this Standing Committee could be neatly justified by the requirement of the law that a registered charity be controlled by a board of trustees. Although the Constitution of the ACC had to be modified to accomplish this feat, its amendment had proceeded quietly sub rosa, until certain details of the process leaked out inadvertently, in connection with the distribution of the Covenant for approval.
The forthcoming consecration of the Rev. Canon Glasspool, to be led by ECUSA's primate (a member of that same Standing Committee), when taken together with the supercilious letter that same primate recently addressed to her "dear brothers in Christ", has forced the issue. Primates of integrity, such as ++Mouneer Anis and ++Orombi, refuse to stand meekly by and allow the train to proceed inexorably on its track.
Let the left have its hissy-fits; that is what it does very well. But ++Cantuar's cover has been blown sky-high, make no mistake. There will now be no way to stage-manage a takeover of the Communion by a standing committee and its supporting bureaucracy. When the Covenant was first released to the provinces, I predicted that ECUSA's General Convention would not approve it. But that was under the misapprehension that the Covenant was a legitimate tool for self-definition within the Communion. As others have since pointed out, it is so broad and vague that it provides a means of enshrining what Bishop Moses Tay has aptly called "institutionalized disobedience." Thus the program as now laid bare by ++Orombi's letter could well include a showy and self-congratulatory adoption of the Covenant by ECUSA, strung out over a four-year period.
The forthcoming meeting of the Global South in Singapore will tell the tale. If ++Cantuar has not called a special meeting of the Primates by the time that conference ends, then look for the Primates of the Global South to begin taking matters into their own hands -- without ++Cantuar. The left will throw more hissy-fits, ++Cantuar will tergiversate, ++Schori will preen in her chasuble and mitre of many colors -- and the Communion will stumble on, despite the best of intentions, into a tawdry ecclesial irrelevancy.