What did the Archbishop say?

Chris Sugden

Is the task of leading the Communion the task of one man, as Archbishop Rowan has assumed? What is the problem to which Archbishop Rowan has proposed a solution?  What is the world of the Anglican Communion?  A key issue in the break with the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century was not over theology but over governance. It was King Henry who made the break and not the Archbishop of Canterbury. The break was summed up in the affirmation that the Pope of Rome has no jurisdiction in this realm.  

The English Reformation redefined the nature of the word “Catholic.” Rome had defined “Catholic” or “Universal” as meaning “a centrally governed church”. The Anglican Reformation insisted on the cultural adaptation of the church within national boundaries. Governance and theology were of course connected. The English Reformation saw the theological corruption of the Roman Catholic Church as deriving from its centralised and corrupted governance.

The Anglican Church began to experience the same problems of global governance as it expanded throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century through the expansion of British influence throughout the globe.  How could national and independent churches work together without being a global church? The 1930 Lambeth Conference addressed these issues and gave responsibility for deciding how churches might work together in harmony to the Primates of each province- not to a centralised body.  Centralisation with the “instruments of communion” only took place in the 1970s and following.

It is this centralization that has now failed. The “instruments of communion” have failed to function. Numerous Anglican provinces, archbishops and bishops identified a failure to exercise discipline in the case of the consecration of active homosexual priests as bishops in TEC. Currently, regional gatherings in Africa (CAPA), Nigeria, Kenya, South East Asia (Global South) and North America are the means by which orthodox Anglicans are resourcing and encouraging each other. There are no agreed fora however for the Communion to move forward.

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