The Communion we have: it is indeed a very imperfect thing at the moment. It is still true that not every Primate feels able to communicate at the Lord’s Table alongside every other, and this is indeed a tragedy. Yet last week, all the Primates who had attended GAFCON were present, every one of them took part in daily prayer and Bible study alongside the Primates of North America and every one of them spoke in discussion. In a way that I have come to recognise as very typical of these meetings, when talk of replacing Communion with federation of some kind was heard, nearly everyone reacted by saying that this was not something they could think about choosing. We may have imperfect communion, but we unmistakably want to find a way of holding on to what we have and ‘intensifying’ it – to use the language I used last summer about the proposed Anglican Covenant.
I think we are already asking in this Synod what we can do in a Church where the others are not going to go away. Traditionalist opponents of women in the episcopate have long since acknowledged that it is likely to come and that they must find ways of living with the results; and those who passionately believe it to be right and good for the Church’s health have acknowledged that opponents are not going to disappear. Both have to some extent turned their backs on the fantasy of a Church that is ‘pure’ in their own terms, in favour of a Church that is honest about its diversity – even when that diversity seems at first embarrassing and unwelcome. And one of the questions that is going to be around this week – and that will be in the forefront of the work of the Revision Committee if legislation is remitted to it – will be, ‘What is the form of legislation best adapted to the good of the Church as a body where The Others do not simply go away and become invisible?’
Grandmère Mimi provides commentary. Goodness, Grandmère!