The resignation of Frank Tracey Griswold III as co-chairman of International ARCIC was an opportunity.
The problem with Frank was that he incarnated the Anglican Disease – he said what he thought people wanted to hear, and acted, to the contrary, as he thought fit. He signed a statement deploring the ordination of Gene Robinson and then turned up at the ice rink as the prime co-consecrator. Would you (asks Cardinal Kasper, sotto voce, and with appropriate Vatican formality) buy a used car from this man? The answer, obviously is NO.
The opportunity was to appoint an altogether different sort of figure: a robust mainstream Anglican with contacts in the global South and with disaffected Evangelicals. ARCIC has for some time been that most paradoxical of endeavours; an ecumenical project which aggravates divisions within Anglicanism itself. A new face was needed to give the process back its credibility.
Peter Carnley, the chosen candidate, is not that new face. He is more of the same. Indeed, he is indistinguishable from Frank, and in the same liberal Catholic mould as the ABC himself. It was Peter Carnley, it will be remembered, who ordained the first women priests in Australia, in defiance of the General Synod of his own church and of an injunction taken out against him: hardly a recommendation for a diplomat!
Why, you will ask, is the white liberal stranglehold on positions of authority and power in the Communion allowed to continue? Who makes these appointments and how are they made?
The answers to these questions are often complex and seldom edifying. But what is abundantly clear is that unless there are some orthodox voices heard at the heart of the Communion soon, the process of disintegration which began in New Hampshire and New Westminster will accelerate. ARCIC will collapse, not from the intransigence of Rome, as some have always feared, but from the incoherence of Canterbury.
Rome, Moscow, Constantinople and the Oriental Churches have all expressed reservations about continued contacts with a body which cannot deliver on agreements made. Provincial autonomy they have concluded, is no way to run a world-wide church. How right they are.