The Church of England says nothing new about ACNA

Thinking Anglicans brings news of a report signed to the General Synod of the Church of England signed by Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu reflecting on the relationship, such as it is, of the church to the Anglican Church in North America.

Report may be a misleading word as the document doesn’t contain any new information, or seem to indicate any changes in the church’s thinking on this issue since the synod first took up the topic in February 2010.

Simon Sarmiento has highlighted some of the important paragraphs:

18. We would, therefore, encourage an open-ended engagement with ACNA on the part of the Church of England and the Communion, while recognising that

the outcome is unlikely to be clear for some time yet, especially given the

strong feelings on all sides of the debate in North America.

19. The Church of England remains fully committed to the Anglican Communion

and to being in communion both with the Anglican Church of Canada and the

Episcopal Church (TEC). In addition, the Synod motion has given Church of

England affirmation to the desire of ACNA to remain in some sense within the

Anglican family.

20. Among issues that will need to be explored in direct discussions between the

Church of England and ACNA are the canonical situation of the latter, its

relationship to other Churches of the Communion outside North America and

its attitude towards existing Anglican ecumenical agreements.

I find the call for “an open-ended engagement with ACNA on the part of the Church of England and the Communion” intriguing, if opaque, and wonder whether there are Christian churches with which the Church of England does not have “an open-ended engagement.”

And I can’t resist calling these paragraphs to the attention of The New York Times reporter who conferred upon ACNA membership in the Anglican Communion.

[T]he concept of membership of the Anglican Communion is not entirely straightforward. The Communion itself (in common with the Church of England) has no legal personality. In addition (and unlike the Church of England) it does not have a set of canons which set out its core beliefs and regulate aspects of its internal governance.

9. Thus, from the time of the first Lambeth Conference in 1867, those Churches whose bishops have been invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury of the day to attend, participate fully and vote in the deliberations of the Conference have been regarded as part of the Anglican Communion.

10. The creation of a new legal entity in the 1960s – the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) – created the need for a more formalised basis for membership of that body. Under the ACC?s constitution a Church can be added to the ACC schedule of membership by decision of the Standing Committee of the Communion and with the assent of 2/3 of the primates of the Churches already listed in the schedule.

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