February 7, 2023

Maybe Two (or more) Churches of England?

General Synod of rhe Church of England is meeing this week, and it is forcing them finally to begin to address the fact that there have been two Churches of England for a while now. It is a bit like acknowledging that a couple have been pretending their marriage isn't at an end. This is understandable because the awfulness of admitting to the death of a marriage may be as awful as trying to keep up appearances. Much depends upon the reason for maintaining the appearance: is it for the sake of the public, or of the children? 

This might be a way to look at the current woe in the Church of England. The real "communion" of the Church, both internally and in its wider connections (Anglican and otherwise) — in the terms one uses for determining communion between differing church traditions: mutual recognition of ministers — was severed over the ordination of women (particularly to the episcopate) and an arrangement with what amounts to separate bedrooms (to extend the marital analogy) has kept up appearances of unity to some degree; though the joins begin to show at consecrations of bishops with various combinations of people participating — or not — in laying on of hands.

But it was only and ever an appearance; communion was and is severed; and now, it seems, we are talking about acknowledging the breach with a real divorce, and deciding the terms of who gets the silverware — perhaps literally. It is time for those on both sides of the divide to sit down and take this seriously. It is a pity that optimistic progressives failed to take full note of the conservative position that these were church-dividing issues. So they were, and are.

— Tobias Stanislas Haller