In a surprising move, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has actually sanctioned the U.S. Episcopal Church. You can read the full article here.
In part, the article says:
The Episcopal Church in the United States has been suspended from participating in ecumenical dialogues in which the Anglican Communion is formally engaged, according to an announcement Monday.
The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said he sent the U.S. body letters informing them that “their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued.”
It’s an interesting move for the Archbishop. On the one hand, it’s not much of a sanction. The US Episcopal Church can’t take part in an ecumenical dialogue. So what? It’s not like they’ve been barred from voting in the next general conference of the Anglican Church.
Though, there is apparently an Inter-Anglican Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order that they no longer have a voting representation on. The Episcopal representative has been downgraded to a consultant only.
Still, it’s not a lot. It’s not a heavy-handed sanction. It’s not a definitive rebuke, which is what many in the wider Anglican Communion really want.
All the same, it is something. And it’s a whole lot more than most of us thought the Archbishop would ever do. Dr. Williams has been notoriously indecisive and noncommittal about this issue from the very start.
In my opinion, his lack of definitive action is what has let this issue get so out of hand in the Anglican Church. Regardless of how one feels about the issue in question, it would be nice to have some clear leadership and hear what the supposed ‘head of the Church’ thinks on the matter.
Mind you, I know – the Anglican Church isn’t like the Catholic Church or even the United Methodist. There is no one body or person who can tell another part of the Communion precisely what they must do.
Still, the Archbishop does have some power and authority. He can say something, even if it’s later ignored. Saying nothing just makes it worse. Things get out of hand. The two extremes run amok.
Yet, now the Archbishop has spoken. And he has done something. He’s slapped the US Episcopal Church on the hand. It’s not much, but it is a statement.
I wonder if it will make any difference in keeping the Anglican Communion from utterly falling apart.