Once upon a time that recognition and authentication occurred through the meetings of the Primates, the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, churches of the Anglican Communion and resolutions of the Anglican Consultative Council “with the Primates assenting.”
But, the Archbishop of Canterbury never makes that decision alone.
Tomorrow in Atlanta, Georgia, eight Primates and other bishops representing the majority of practicing Anglicans worldwide will gather around the new Archbishop of the ACNA to lay hands on him and recognize him as a fellow Primate, and reaffirm the ACNA as a full member of the Communion of Anglican Churches. Canterbury’s absence from that future””without even an official representative””will be noted.
The Rev. Dr Mark Thompson of Sydney, Australia has written an excellent analysis of Canterbury’s statements in the light of Anglican polity and history. I encourage you to read his analysis below. In it, Dr Thompson pinpoints a major concern with Archbishop Welby’s interview. The Archbishop of Canterbury is assuming powers that rightfully belong to the Primates:
“ACNA could be, and perhaps already is [according to ++Welby], an ecumenical partner with the Anglican Communion but it cannot be considered a member of the Anglican Communion because (and this last bit is the implication of what he said rather than his own words) it is not in communion with Canterbury, it has not been recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.
“This is a gigantic slap in the face to the Primates who represent the vast bulk of practicing Anglicans around the world and who, meeting in London in April 2009, recognized the Anglican Church in North America ”˜as genuinely Anglican’”¦” (Emphasis added)
That “slap in the face” stings worse when those who have already recognized the ACNA read more of what the Archbishop of Canterbury had to say:
“Virtually everywhere I’ve gone, the analysis is that the definition of being part of the Anglican Communion is being in communion with Canterbury. And I haven’t prompted that. I was quite surprised to hear that.” ”“ Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Ireland Gazette
It has always been the role of the Primates to decide who is in the Communion of Anglican Churches”“ working together in their Primates’ meetings, through their Provinces, at the decennial Lambeth Conference of Bishops, and by prior assent to resolutions of the Anglican Consultative Council. This authority is recognized in Section 7.2 of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council (revised 2010), which provides that the “Member Churches of the [Anglican Consultative] Council shall be those bodies listed in the Schedule”¦ with the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.” (Emphasis added).
How is it possible that the Archbishop of Canterbury overlooked the polity of the Anglican Communion, its Instruments, and its documented history in granting membership to Churches?
Read it all