The Lead reports the following:
Ruth Gledhill writes:
The Windsor Continuation Group has endorsed a strong centralizing agenda that elevates the role of the Primates Meeting, diminishes the influence of the Anglican Consultative Council, and endorses the establishment of an "Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission." The proposal, which is sure to face stiff resistance, is the strongest signal yet that this important body intends to recommend wide ranging changes in Communion governance.
The recommendations, contained in part two of the group's "preliminary observations" says the survival of the Communion may depend on "communion with autonomy and accountability."
The Communion suffers from an emphasis on "independence at the expense of interdependence in the Body of Christ," the report says. "This has led to internal fragmentation as well as to confusion among our ecumenical partners."
Resolving the current controversy over the morality of homosexual relationships will require "a common understanding of the place and role of the episcopal office within the sensus fidelium of the whole Church.
The members of the committee, all but one of whom are bishops, and none of whom supports the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, said that the Lambeth Quadrilateral, which once provided the framework of Anglican unity now required "strengthened" instruments of communion to stand "alongside" it to hep the Communion "regain a sense of Anglican identify."
"It is a flag raised to see who salutes at this stage," said the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury."I think there is a kind of head of steam behind [it], said Williams, adding that he was "quite enthusiastic" about the proposal.
He said without additional governing structures "we shall be flying further apart."
Jim Naughton says: "It's troubling, but perhaps unsurprising to see a group composed almost exclusively of bishops, and advised by Anglican Communion Office bureaucrats recommending new structures for the Communion that strengthen the role of bishops and bureaucrats at the expense of clergy and lay people."
So what does this mean?
It means that the people in charge of this process have at last realised, perhaps thanks to Gafcon, that the African provinces who are boycotting Lambeth are serious. There is a desperation to keep them on board to prevent the Church from splitting.
If this new Commission enforces the new canon law blueprint in a way that is strictly in line with Lambeth 1.10, it also means there will be huge anger in the US. The Episcopal Church could well find itself riven by a formal split, leaving questions over which will be recognised by Canterbury. (Maybe those behind the name change from the former PECUSA saw this coming and that was a preparatory step.)
But we are fools if we think just the US will be affected. There are many traditionalist, catholic parishes in the Church of England that might well prefer to be aligned with a liberal TEC than a strictly conservative evangelical province.
Off the top of my head, I can think of three reasons why this proposal is bad news and could be a non-starter.