The Archbishop of Canterbury’s authority is inevitably also diminished by these events, especially when his invitation to fellow Anglican primates to gather to take counsel is one which, because of who is invited, a significant number of Primates cannot in conscience accept. It is clear that, barring a miracle, there cannot again be a Primates’ Meeting in which the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers all Anglican primates from across the Communion: either the Presiding Bishop of TEC is not invited as a primate in full and equal standing or a significant number of Primates will not attend. Although some of those associated with GAFCON have spoken openly of a non-Canterbury communion, this is, thankfully, something which few are actively seeking. It is, nevertheless, increasingly obvious that this will be the next pressure point on the trajectory which has been travelled since 2003 and increasingly rapidly since 2007-8. There needs, therefore, to be a recognition that if the Instruments are unable to make themselves “fit for purpose” and the see of Canterbury continues to prove unable or unwilling to act in ways that secure the unity in truth of the Anglican Communion then God in his providence may raise up one or more other Anglican metropolitans who are able to fulfil at least some of Canterbury’s traditional responsibilities in relation to the majority of the Communion.
It is a biblical principle that we reap what we sow. The actions of North American provinces since 2003, the actions in response from other provinces and the actions (and subsequent inaction) of Primates’ Meetings have reaped quite a whirlwind. Whatever happens in Ireland there will be further consequences as a result and for some Anglicans those consequences will be painful ”“ there are no painless ways forward from our current situation. The danger is that actions this week will produce consequences that simply harden rather than constructively address the impasse over sexuality, further erode the Instruments’ authority and alienate the majority of the world’s Anglicans. Such consequences would also undermine the covenant as the best long-term means of providing commitments and agreed structures to prevent the repetition of the last eight years and place the Communion on a firmer footing.