The Archbishop still does not appear to grasp that the House of Bishops in the Episcopal Church is an equal partner with the House of Deputies in the General Convention. They do not have any "decisive" power to operate contrary to the decisions of that Convention; although as part of that Convention they do hold an absolute veto power over any decisions of that Convention (as, of course, do the Deputies). If this is what the Archbishop means (that the Bishops alone can hold the line at GC 2009) then he is spot on.
But if not, it appears the place of Bishops in our governance is one of those things that simply will not penetrate the Archbishop's psyche. They are not the primary theologians of the church; and in the Episcopal Church they are only one strand of its governance. At least the Archbishop has finally acknowledged that this may be a matter in which there is a difference between what TEC believes and what he thinks is believed "elsewhere in the Communion." And yes, it does need to be addressed.
From Fr. Jake, Canterbury's Advent Letter
This letter will probably manage to hold the Communion together through Lambeth, although it is doubtful if it will be enough to carry us through GC2009.
Dr. Williams has chosen to support those who would exclude others from the Church based on the questionable translation of seven verses from scripture. The concrete act which exemplifies his decision to support that position is his insistence on continuing to exclude Bp. Robinson from Lambeth. He seems to not recognize that by barring Bp. Robinson, he has silenced the most qualified representative of those being persecuted in the Church today. In so doing, it is Dr. Williams who has expressed a "refusal of the cross - and so of the resurrection."
From the Steering Committee of the Chicago Consultation:
“The archbishop’s lengthy letter contains not a word of comfort to gay and lesbian Christians. In asserting the Communion’s opposition to homophobia, he gives political cover to Archbishop Peter Akinola and other Primates whose anti-gay activities are a matter of public record. We are especially troubled by the absence of openly gay members on the bodies that may ultimately resolve the issues at hand. The archbishop’s unwillingness to include gay and lesbian Christians in this process perpetuates the bigotry he purports to deplore.”
The Presiding Bishop, quoted in an ENS article
"Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori welcomed Williams' Advent Letter. 'In this season, as we focus on hope and preparation, I am glad to hear of the Archbishop's interest in facilitating further conversations,' she said. 'While I have repeatedly offered to engage in dialogue with those who are most unhappy, the offer has not yet been seriously engaged. Perhaps a personal call from the Archbishop will bring to the table those who have thus far been unwilling to talk. Advent is both a time to ready our eyes to see God in unlikely guises, and to put our hope in God's ultimate graciousness.'"
Kendall Harmon in his "Initial Response ..."
"The bottom line for me is this: we have here truth, but no consequences."
And David Anderson, newly ordained BISHOP Anderson of Nigerian fame, has this to say in his weekly AAC newsletter:
"Dr. Williams announces in his letter that he is seizing yet more power and initiative, principally to punish the orthodox, by several new actions. He is launching "professionally facilitated conversations" between TEC and those they are most in dispute with to see if there is any better level of mutual understanding. What part of the last ten years does he not understand? The TEC revisionists do understand us and fear us. That is why, like pharaoh, they are trying to prevent our multiplying. And we do understand the revisionists, and we are determined not to go to hell with them, no matter what the cost of our resistance. In launching this new action, he also announces that he knows who he will pick to do it. This is not collegial. This is power."
(But wait, there's more ...)
The questions for today are, "Do we have to go through Canterbury to be Christian?" and "Do we have to go through Lambeth Palace to be Anglican?" Many will be searching their souls to deal with these questions. Dr. Williams also asks "who speaks for Anglicanism?" and I would suggest that the faithful orthodox Anglicans themselves speak for the Anglicanism of today and the future. Dr. Williams speaks for the dead and dying Anglicanism of a tired and confused structure.