We welcome the comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury, contained in a recent letter to the Bishop of Central Florida, where he reminds us that “the organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such,” calling this a “basic conviction of Catholic theology.” He goes on to say:
“I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’.”
Given the current atmosphere and controversies in the life of the Anglican Communion, it is helpful to be reminded that dioceses, not provincial structures, are the basic unit of the catholic church. As is stated in the clarifying note issued by Lambeth Palace on Oct. 23, “The diocese is more than a ”˜local branch’ of a national organization.” Clearly, provincial alignments are intended for the benefit of the dioceses, and not the reverse.
It is indeed painful when a number of faithful congregations, striving to discern God’s will in these days of controversy and seeking to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ, arrive at a moment of conviction that compels them to separate from their bishop and diocese. It is also difficult for a faithful diocese to reach the collective decision to separate from its national province. Such congregations and dioceses, however, now feel compelled to take definitive actions to secure their future and to guard the orthodoxy of their faith communities in the decades to come. Affiliation with a heterodox province hampers their mission and witness, just as affiliation with an orthodox province enhances and strengthens it.
As the realignment of the Anglican Communion continues to unfold and take shape in the months ahead, we pray for the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit for all those who seek truth and unity in Jesus Christ, and we urge that such separations as must take place may be accomplished without rancor and litigation.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker The Very Rev. Ryan Reed
Bishop of Fort Worth President, Standing Committee