Last night I thought I was giving up punditry for a while, but ... oh well.
The archbishop's letter is a pretty masterful example of walking a fine line. It can be parsed a number of different ways, depending on what one wants to hear, as is already amply evident in blogland comments.
But once in a while, I have access to information that enables me to be more of a journalist than a pundit. So the question arises, Is there a backstory? Could it be that the letter that was made public today did not appear ex nihilo, but represents the fruit of some rather complex negotiations? Could it be that, while the Archbishop was never of a mind to rescind Bishop Schofield's Lambeth invitation, that the Bishop's last-minute decision to cancel his travel plans represents more than his health-based aversion to overseas travel (which is quite real), but, in fact, is at some level an acquiescence to Rowan's express preferences?
On balance, I would tend to score this one: Advantage Schofield (and, by extension, Venables, and by further extension, GAFCON). Not point or set yet, and certainly not match. But the Archbishop of Canterbury has manifestly declined to recognize Bishop Schofield's deposition by the Presiding Bishop, and has held open the possibility, through the ongoing work of the Windsor Continuation Group, of in future recognizing the relationship between San Joaquin and the Southern Cone.
Moreover, the strongest negative statement the Archbishop was able to make was that Bishop Schofield's status "remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law." While that may at first blush have an ominous aspect, upon closer inspection it is quite harmless because it is not only true, but completely self-evidently true in a manner that no rational person would contest it. Hence, it isn't even controversial. Not even the most diehard GAFCON-ite would disagree that a province in South America having a diocese in central California is outside the "general norms of Anglican Canon Law."
That's tantamount to saying that rain in the San Joaquin Valley in July is "outside the general norms of local weather patterns." The question is, does such an outside-the-norm arrangement contribute to the greater good of the Anglican Communion. The jury's still out on that one.