The Anglican Communion, mostly under the insistence of conservative bishops from Africa, where most active Anglicans now live and worship, has suspended the Episcopal Church in the United States from operating as a full member of the communion by inhibiting its function as a voting member in key commissions and operations.  The suspension is in effect for three years, until the next general convention, in which an official response can be given to the reprimand.

Notably, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, welcomed Foley Beach, the presiding bishop of the breakaway Anglican Church of North America, to the meeting of primates. Bishop Beach noted that the steps taken against an Episcopal Church that shows no intention of repenting its departures from the historical faith were a step in the right direction—strong, but not strong enough.

All too little and too late for the North American provinces in communion with Canterbury, I think, and almost certainly a prelude to further schism, the division lines of which are as yet hard to discern.  The participation of Bp. Beach is significant–for the ACNA–but I doubt this implies any hope for a morbidly weak Canterbury’s ability to sustain the unity of the communion or the historical significance of its primacy.

The ACNA is itself contemplating a lee shore now, since it has no general policy on the ordination of women except the temporizing measure that this is determined by the ordinaries, some of whom do it freely, despite the denomination’s canonical exclusion of woman bishops. My guess on what will happen: in the short run the ACNA, like the similarly constituted North American Lutheran Church, will continue to ordain women, which simply means putting off the inevitable crisis occasioned by those who mistakenly believe women’s ordination to be both compatible with orthodoxy and inevitable.

As a former conservative Episcopalian, I must add to this my own amazement at the seeming impossibility of traditional Anglicanism (very much like the Republican Party in the United States, and reminiscent of Yeats’ line, “the best lack all conviction”) to carry through on doing anything right.  It is more than uncanny that every time it gains a yard it convulsively pulls out its pistol and shoots itself in the foot.  There is no locus at which I have thought as many times Quem deus vult perdere . . . .  And since I have no desire to go down with Ahab’s bark, especially with my family aboard, we left some time ago.

I have come to think Anglicanism operates under a curse, that it is no coincidence a communion begotten in a vile king’s bed–a bald but easy Chronicler’s judgment, to be sure, but which Anglicans who shouldn’t continually evade–is finally dying of a venereal disease.  What seductive beauties are to be found there! and what gifts that church has been given–beauties and gifts I find almost irresistible–but in the end,

O Rose thou art sick.

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night

In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy:

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

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