One of the issues that arose in the discussion on the previous post regards the extent to which Archbishop Rowan Williams is responsible for the Network's having worked itself into its present schismatic position.
When I did my clinical pastoral experience, I served as a chaplain in the psychiatric ward, and was given some instruction in the basics of cognitive therapy, which is a gentle way of guiding delusional people back to greater engagement with reality. Part of this therapeutic technique involves being very clear about reality, as opposed to the unfounded beliefs that a delusional person may hold.
Archbishop Williams, bless his heart, has apparently not learned this valuable skill. He does not seem to grasp that if he gives people who are behaving badly a single thread from which to hang they will weave it into whole cloth.
This is evident in the reports of the recent meeting between the GAFCON primates and the Archbishop. Apparently he told them that he would neither support nor oppose the development of a new province of the Anglican Communion in North America. This carefully neutral statement is being taken not for what it actually says, but as a kind of tacit support; along the lines of "if he is not explicitly against us then he is really for us."
I do not, of course, know what actually transpired in the course of the meeting. It may be that the Archbishop said more than has been reported; for example, that the creation of a new province along these lines would be a novelty in the history of the Anglican Communion. He might have gone further and said, "I will not recognize such a new province." Whether he accepts the authority that comes with being Archbishop of Canterbury or not, it is in his power to recognize a new province — or not. And perhaps this is exactly what he meant when he said he would neither support it nor oppose it -- that is, contrary to the optimistic reading read into his statements by the GAFCON primates, his statement constitutes an essential veto — since his approval is required and he has said he "will not support" the venture. Thus, "he who is not for us is against us" may be the factual implication, since his consent is required for recognition as being in communion with the Church of England; as I've noted, a presumed necessity for being part of the Anglican Communion.
I once said to a bishop friend (now serving in the celestial choir) that I thought every bishop, prior to consecration, should do an additional unit of clinical pastoral experience. He shuddered at the thought. I am now inclined to think that not only should bishops undertake such an experience, but that they should do it on the psych ward.
Tobias Haller BSG