By any account, the outcome of yesterday's debate in the Anglican Consultative Council regarding the Cambridge-Ridley draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant is a setback to those who have held out hope for an organic communion-based resolution to the Anglican turmoil of the last several years. I am personally disheartened by the (close) vote to delay commending the document as a finished product and place the most critical portion of the text--Section IV--in the hands of the one group within the infrastructure of the communion that is most dominated western liberals--the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates' Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council. It is not unreasonable to suspect that they will eviscerate the document and render it substantially toothless. I would hesitate to label this development as "tragic," but it is certainly profoundly sad.
But all is not yet lost, and we must not lose sight of that fact. The ACC resolution on the report of the Windsor Continuation Group is, taken on its face, most encouraging. Rather than merely "receiving" the WCG report, the ACC "affirms" it. Effectively, this makes every word of the WCG report the stated position of the Anglican Consultative Council, which is the closest thing the communion has to a synodical body.
This is not trifling or petty. The WCG (and now the ACC) has reaffirmed the imperative of maintaining moratoria on the consecration of bishops living in same-sex unions and the celebration of rites of blessing for such unions. Any abrogation of B-033 is specifically named as a potentially problematic development. The Pastoral Forum and Pastoral Visitors plan proposed by the WCG is effectively a framework for the implementation of the recommendations of the Primates in their 2007 Dar es Salaam communique, which has been too-long ignored. The WCG (and, hence, now the ACC) approvingly quotes the Covenant Design Group to the effect that "a covenant without consequences is, by definition, not a covenant at all, but an empty word."
So, while yesterday was a blow, and there is some wound-licking to be done (my own resolution submitted to General Convention would seem to be now effectively moot), those who are committed to an organic solution based on communion with Canterbury can take valid consolation from this week's events in Jamaica.