Edward Pentin also has a very interesting piece about the Anglican conference in Canterbury. He begins,
The Anglican Communion stands on the verge of formal schism this week, as its leaders began meeting today to discuss the issue of homosexuality and other matters in Canterbury, England.
The five-day meeting, called by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is seen as a last-ditch attempt to keep the ecclesial community together following a long-running dispute over homosexuality and deeper differences over how Anglicans should interact with today’s largely secular, post-Christian society.
(Emphasis supplied.) We, of course, are interested in this as the Anglican church is an interesting topic. Not being Anglican or a member of one of the Ordinariates, we would not however say we have a rooting interest one way or the other. Except with respect to this point:
The Vatican, meanwhile, is watching events in Canterbury closely. It argues that, for dialogue between Rome and Canterbury to effectively continue, the Anglican Communion must stay as one, but it recognizes that its dispersed authority model makes that an almost impossible task. It is perplexed at Anglicans’ wish to allow local and regional bishops to decide on doctrinal matters without seemingly having a sense of what is owed to the communion as a whole, but recognizes that Welby is not, as he has said himself, an “Anglican pope.”
(Emphasis supplied.) Wait, what?
We were under the impression that the Anglicans drew a bold line through, not under, further dialogue with Rome when they went forward with making some women bishops. One can get into Apostolicae curae and whether Anglican orders were ever valid—the good and holy Pope Leo XIII reached his own conclusion, notwithstanding contrary views—but it’s not really necessary now. Whatever you’d have to do about women presbyters (and Rome’s answer is simple but perhaps hard to sell to the female ministers), you’d have to do about women bishops and the presbyters they ordained, man or woman.
Which is, of course, to say that whether there is one Anglican communion or a Canterbury Group and a GAFCON, the question is not whether Rome can conduct dialogue with all Anglicans. It can’t. The question is whether Rome can conduct fruitful dialogue with some Anglican jurisdictions. And that’s a harder question to answer, as it seems that the GAFCON jurisdictions take the protestant and reformed bits of the Anglican identity somewhat more seriously than the Canterbury side of the line of scrimmage. On the other hand, it is good to see that Rome is taking the Anglican crisis seriously, since the Anglican crisis could expose some of the potential fault lines within the Church. But one doubts that that is the message that they’re taking away from all this.
Obviously, it would be good if the Anglicans returned to full communion with Peter, but dialogue is a two-way street.