This morning on the Son Rise Morning Show, Matt Swaim and I will discuss recent events in the Anglican Communion. I'll be on the air after the 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central break. You may listen live here.
I'm referring to the meeting of the 37 Primates of the Anglican Communion last week in Canterbury. The big announcement last week was that after agreeing to the agenda, the Primates addressed the issue that threatened to destroy the Anglican Communion by temporarily suspending the Episcopal Church in the USA from the Anglican Communion's official functions, while it is still part of the Anglican Communion:
The meeting started by agreeing the agenda. The first agreed item was to discuss an important point of contention among Anglicans worldwide: the recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA.
Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ. We looked at what that meant in practical terms.
We received the recommendation of a working group of our members which took up the task of how our Anglican Communion of Churches might walk together and our unity be strengthened. Their work, consistent with previous statements of the Primates’ meetings, addressed what consequences follow for The Episcopal Church in relation to the Anglican Communion following its recent change of marriage doctrine. The recommendations in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Addendum A below are:
“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.
“We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”
These recommendations were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.
It just cannot be coincidental that this statement was issued on the same day as the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady in Walsingham, which was followed by the organizing of an Anglican Ordinariate in the USA a year later. Nor can it be ignored that the Vatican had arranged for two great relics of England's Catholic past to be on display at Canterbury: the staff of Pope St. Gregory the Great and the bloodied vestment of St. Thomas of Canterbury.
Most commentators note that this is just puts off the harder decisions about marriage in the Anglican Communion, because the Episcopalians and other "liberals" are not going to change their teaching, while the more "conservative" Anglicans, from Africa for example, are not going to change theirs or allow the "liberals" to change Anglican teaching throughout the Communion. This semi-suspension just "kicks the can" down the road for another meeting to reconsider where the two sides are.