The problem for Anglicanism is that it has never been clear whose discernment counts. This is an inevitable dilemma for a Church that attempts to be true to both its Catholic roots and Protestant experience. Anglicans value and defend individual conscience, but also maintain Catholic order (as they understand it). With this in mind, Dr Williams has a limited armory. It includes the ability to win people over by argument and personal influence. He is adept at the first and possesses the necessary charisma for the second. He should use them to convince the diverging sections of the Communion that a sincere difference of opinion exists, and that, since the time taken so far to resolve the issues has clearly not been enough, more time is needed.
If, after the US House of Bishops meeting, the conservative and liberal tendencies declare that they are seeking greater division, this will solve little. Since schism removes the challenge of working closely with critics, it invariably confirms prejudice. Dr Williams will work to keep Anglicanism together not because everyone agrees with each other, but because they don’t. Most of all, we hope he will keep his head and refuse to be manipulated into one camp or another. Giving visible support to all sides equally is a good example to set.
From Australia, the ABC radio programme The Religion Report interviewed Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane, before he departed for New Orleans. Go here, and scroll down more than halfway,to read the full transcript of this.