Are we really a communion?

Nov 29, 2022 by

By The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Virtueonline:

“The Anglican Communion we have loved, though it has kept its name, yet has lost its heart”.

Over the decades, and on many occasions, we Anglicans gave thanks to God for the ‘gift of the Anglican Communion’. Yes, we saw the Communion as ‘a gift’ because we enjoyed being a family of churches. A global family of Anglican churches of diverse nations, living in different countries, speaking a variety of languages and yet we are in full communion with each other.

We Anglicans are unique, being both ‘reformed and catholic’ upholding the faith we once received from Christ through the Apostles and Saints. The Word of God, the Creeds, the Sacraments and the Episcopal Ministry united us into one communion [1]. Right from its beginning, the Bishops of the Communion were keen to make its nature ‘autonomous and interdependent’. This was very clear in Recommendation 7 of Lambeth Conference 1878 [2] “…. And, while they consider that such large elasticity in the forms of worship is desirable as will give wide scope to all legitimate expressions of devotional feeling, they would appeal, on the other hand, to the apostolic precept that “all things be done unto edifying,” and to the Catholic principle that order and obedience, even at the sacrifice of personal preferences and tastes, lie at the foundation of Christian unity, and are even essential to the successful maintenance of the faith.”

The principle of the ‘Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence’ was further affirmed by Resolution 67 of 1968 Lambeth Conference [3] that states:

(a) The Conference records its gratitude for the concept of mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ, and for the renewed sense of responsibility for each other which it has created within our Communion.

It is clear from this Resolution that interdependence is kept at the heart of the Communion. Indeed, without such affirmation of interdependence between the Anglican Churches (Provinces), it would be difficult to call them a family of Churches, or a Communion. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote about the importance of interdependence between the various members of the church giving the example of the interdependence of different organs of the human body. [4]

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