Consequent upon the negative response of the Global South (GSFA) to the Church of England’s announcement of Same-Sex Blessings in the Church of England. The C. of E. has issued a statement to the effect that each Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion is a separate legal identity, responsible for its own authority on matters of adiaphora (not relating to the Doctrine of the Christian Creeds)
Each Province has its own constitutional legal framework, vested in its local General Synod, attended by its houses of bishops, clergy and laity – each of which House has a vote on changes to the local Anglican Church Constitution. Therefore; as the Statement from the Church of England office (below) sets out; no single Province of the Anglican Communion has the legal authority to demand that any other Province agrees in principle with their own particular way of governance.The Anglican Communion is not a single Church. It is a group of Churches within a Fellowship under the Headship of Jesus Christ
While the Anglican Communion was brought into being through the influence of the Church of England, none of its provinces – under a notional ‘Primus-inter-pares’ (the ABC at this time) – is legally bound to follow the non-credal (adiaphora) dictates of that Church. Neither is any one of the Provincial Churches beholden to any other for the conduct of its local individual mission. This is not to say that a common, Christ-like, pastoral outlook is not encouraged amongst the different Anglican Provinces. This assumed latitude has already been proven by the existence of such newly-raised organisations within the A.C.C. as GAFCON and GSFA. However, as an old Anglican saying goes: Unity in Diversity is the Anglican watchword for our common mutual relationship as Anglicans in conveyancing the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Doctrines change, but the Love of God in Christ for ALL HUMANITY is constant!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
(P.S.: The ABC is about to visit Archbishop Badi and the Churches of South Sudan with Pope Francis this coming week. Watch this space!)
Statement from the Church of England regarding GSFA statement – 25/01/2023
A Church of England spokesperson said: “We are heartened by Archbishop Justin Badi’s commitment to the Anglican Communion, and his affirmation of the Communion as an expression of God’s ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church’. This echoes the House of Bishops’ desire to walk together as a single church while reflecting our different understandings. The Archbishop of York has written to all the Primates of the Communion to express this, and that while the Church of England’s teaching of Holy Matrimony remains as between one man and one woman, we are welcoming prayers of God’s blessing for people in same-sex partnerships. The Bishops’ proposals will now be discussed and debated by General Synod, and we look forward prayerfully to those discussions.”
An Anglican Communion Office spokesperson said: “The 42 member Churches of the Anglican Communion are independent and autonomous, but interdependent. It is a fundamental principle of the Anglican Communion that no province can bind another province, and no Instrument of Communion (Instrument of Unity) has any jurisdictional authority over any province. The Primates’ Meeting does not decide doctrine within the Anglican Communion, doctrine is decided by provinces in accordance with their local processes.”