The leaders of the worldwide Anglican communion just released a document chastising the Episcopal Church of the USA for ordaining a practicing gay bishop. Even the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports gay ordination, signed the document, calling for a season of restraint before either side issued further provocations. She is getting grief from some American Episcopal leaders for not fighting this censure. In an even more extraordinary concession, Bishop Jefferts Schori agreed to the creation of a non-geographic diocese for traditionalist Episcopal churches, to be overseen by a commission of foreign bishops.
To rewind a couple of steps, when the Church of England was considering naming a celibate gay man as bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury eventually asked him to withdraw his name, rather than create controversy in the Anglican communion. When non-celibate gay priest V. Gene Robinson was being considered as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, the Archbishop of Canterbury asked him to withdraw his name, as well, for the good of the worldwide Anglican communion. The American, however, refused, on the grounds that it was inevitable that his side would win the struggle, so the conflict might as well come now.
The Archbishop of Nairobi, Peter Akinola, presides over a church that is about ten times larger than the Episcopal Church, and has more active members on any given Sunday than the mother church in England does. He has emerged as the de facto leader of the third world Anglican church – where most of the world's Anglicans are. The worldwide Anglican communion has disapproved of the American church for decades, but has put up with them because Anglicans are polite, and because the Americans provide quite a bit of money.
The limits of Anglican patience seem to have been reached, however, The showdown is upon us. The Episcopal Church must decide whether to follow the rules of the Anglican Communion, or get booted out.