News today that the 'covenant', brainchild of Rowan Williams, Great White Father to the Anglican communion, has crashed and burned.
The covenant, perhaps better termed 'the compromise', was intended to keep the various segments of Anglicanism together in the face of emerging issues in the post-modern world. To do so, the American Episcopal Church was to be offered up like a sacrificial goat on the high altar at St Pauls. The unforgivable treatment of Gene Robinson, shunned by his British peers, must go down in history as one of Anglicanism's most shameful moments.
The issue is broader than the place of homosexuals in the church, but this has been the trigger, or perhaps the pretext, for division. The problem is, in larger part, that many Anglican churches in the so-called Third World are hyper-conservative, bible-bashing, woman-relegating, gay-hating, authoritarian pig-pens of human oppression. Quite the contrast to the polite, well-heeled, progressive, liberal, tea and crumpets Anglicanism of the Anglo world. Rowan Williams determined to play a strategic game of appeasement. He lost.
And who brought down the Gandalf-like, bewhiskered, bespectacled scholar-priest? A 75 year old slightly stooped woman named Jean Mayland who was ordained in 1994.
Tellingly, most bishops voted in favour of the Williams covenant, but the peons, clergy and laity, sent it to its doom.