By Judi Bottoni, AP

USA Today

That’s how its starting to sound — only a lot more polite — as the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the U.S. Branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, squares off against Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Williams has declared that the Episcopal Church, which has now welcomed two gay bishops, should no longer participate in worldwide governing committees for the Communion, which is now dominated by Southern Hemisphere conservatives vehemently opposed to gay bishops.

Of course, there’s a certain irony in Williams, struggling to keep the Church of England glued together in disputes over allowing women bishops, facing off with the U.S. presiding bishop — Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Reuter’s wrote last week of Williams’ move to “discipline” the Episcopal Church within the worldwide denomination for violating “Anglican traditions.”

Schori then came back with a letter to the church calling this “a troubling push toward centralized authority” in a body born in opposition to Vatican control.

And, Schori said Williams’ move, including

… sanctions for churches that disagree — both those approving gay clergy and same-sex unions as well as conservatives vehemently opposed to them — smacked of discredited colonial practices.

Schori wrote:

The Spirit may be speaking to all of us in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree,” she said. “In all humility, we recognize that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.”

Or, as Jim Naughton, canon for communications for the Diocese of Washington D.C. put it at Episcopal Cafe: Who cares what Williams says any more as churches carry on with their missions of faith, love and service?

Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.

Can churches and their doctrines change with time and cultures? Must they?

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