Last week the Archbishops of Canterbury and York put their names to a document that will be presented to the General Synod of the Church of England that changes exactly nothing about the relationship between the schismatic Anglican Church in North America and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
This is what Archbishop Robert Duncan, the nominal leader of ACNA made of it:
“We are encouraged by the desire of the Church of England to continue to embrace the Anglican Church in North America and remain in solidarity with us as we proclaim the Gospel message and truth as revealed in Scripture in the way it has always been understood in Anglican formularies.
As we have demonstrated successfully to the GAFCON primates, the Anglican Church in North America remains committed to our growing relationships with Anglican provinces outside of North America. Our biblical orthodoxy and ministries are strengthening our bond to our Anglican brothers and sisters around the globe. We are gratified that we are already in a relationship of full communion with many Anglican Provinces and look forward to expanding that circle.
In that regard, we appreciate the work of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England, whose report and recommendations to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York form the basis of the document now released for General Synod, and whose content substantially advances the same ends with the Church of England."
The reality-based community responded somewhat differently. Dean Tom Ferguson of Bexley Hall Seminary wrote:
This report is good news. Translated from Church of England speak, it basically means, "Nothing's gonna happen with ACNA for a long, long time. This is what "open ended" engagement means.
It also clearly affirms being in Communion with the Anglican Church of Canada and Church of England, given that many conservative blogs have been spinning the 2010 resolution that the C of E is in communion with ACNA and recognises it -- and thus by the unitary nature of Communion ecclesiology (one valid expression per country), meaning the Episcopal Church is on its way out of the Communion.
It then returns to delightfully ambiguous language by speaking of ACNA "in some sense" remaining "in the Anglican family."
Thus, good news. Clear affirmation of being in Communion with the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church; abstruse and recondite Rowanspeak when referring to ACNA.
"Affirming" a "desire" does nothing other than acknoledge that ACNA wants to be in the communion. "Anglican Family" is as undefined a term in Anglican Ecclesiology as "Enemy Combatant" is in the Geneva Convention. This is a pretty vague pat on the back from Lambeth.