16 February 2007

Broken Communion in effect

Today the Church of Nigeria has issued a statement about the absence of several primates from the Primates' Meeting Eucharist today.

We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.

It seems to me that, by the very definition of communion, these provinces have removed themselves from the Anglican Communion. That being the case, one wonders why they are still invested in the institutional machinery of the Communion. Even if a second, parallel province were created in the US for conservatives, so long as ECUSA remains in communion with Canterbury, I don't see how these dissenting primates could join with others at the Holy Table. As I understand it, the essential definition of the Anglican Communion is that one must be in communion with the See of Canterbury. If they are unable to join in a Eucharist with +Rowan, then...

I'll write more later, but I think this is significant, not only from a theological perspective, but from a polity perspective. On an optimistic note, it seems that more primates were present for Eucharist than at previous gatherings. I'm not sure that any primate's deliberate absence from the Eucharistic feast has a postive spin though.


Ty said...

Indeed! By a strict definition they have excommunicated themselves.

In a body that claims great emphasis on being incarnational and sacramental, what folks do seem as, if not more, important that what they say. This could be quite telling.

I'm not intimately aquainted with African hospitality customs, but it also seems quite an afront to the hospitality of their brother and host ++Tanzania.

R. William said...

It's one step beyond donatism. Not only does the worthiness of the minister affect the validity of the sacrament for them. Apparently the "worthiness" of the other participants does too. Could one ever participate in a valid Eucharist by this logic?