The live webcast with Bishop Katharine has just ended. Here are a few quick thoughts. I'll want to read a transcript before I mull too much.
As always, I was impressed by her clarity, her purpose, and her non-anxious presence. She has done well, I think, to urge calm as we listen to one another. That said, I think Jim Naughton makes a good point: those who are suffering may not find it so easy to "calm down." Still, I think there are some people in this conversation (especially those desiring immediate schism) who would do well to ask themselves why they're in such a hurry.
Katharine reminded all of us that this will take time. It's possible we'll have some answers for the primates by September 30, but it will take longer (at least until 2009) for a full response from ECUSA. She seems willing to implement the Primatial Vicar scheme, but she did also point out that this will need to provide cover for moderates in dissident dioceses. (I found her use of the term "dissident dioceses" to be instructive, by the way.) I wonder if +Bob Duncan and company have built that into their equation. Will alternative oversight be provided for progressive parishes who are in the jurisdiction of conservative bishops?
As expected, Katharine also pushed the point that the church's authority vests in all orders of ministry. I think this cuts to the heart of many of our differences. Apart from the reality that conservative American money is paying for much of this conflict, it is also true that the conflict has much to do with the nature of authority itself. In many African cultures, for example, the notion that lay people would participate fully in the governance of the church is anathema. And that's one of the things the other primates don't always get about our church. Our church is governed by General Convention, and the authority of our bishops is constitutionally and canonically limited. This is among the many cultural differences that exacerbate the debate.
Finally, I note that Katharine began with the numbers game again, referring numerous times to the majority view in ECUSA versus the minority view in the Anglican Communion. I for one do not find this helpful, especially when there is no democratic means of determining real majorities and minorities elsewhere. Moreover, the truth is not always to be found in the majority. I think it would be helpful to avoid the numbers game. We should stick to the Gospel game.
I continue to be grateful for Katharine's leaderhip. I can't imagine a better person to be our Presiding Bishop through these difficult times. Sure, I don't agree with everything she says or does, but I give her my loyalty and gratitude for service. Let's hope there are more conversations like this one. Wouldn't it be great of +Peter Akinola would talk with us too? Or +Rowan Williams?