Comments: Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod 2010

I took the time to listen in to an interview with Primus David Chillingworth, which took place around the last General Synod (2009) - just after his election to this important post in the Episcopal Church of Scotland. I was struck by his reference to the fact that each Province of the Anglican Communion - whatever the given title - has its own 'primus inter pares', affording an honorary title of notional leadership of the College of Bishops in the individual Province.

Such an understanding might afford a new insight into the actual leadership function of the ABC - primarily as 'Primus inter pares' of Canterbury's provincial College of Bishops. This takes the pressure off the ABC as solely responsible for the workings of the Communion - over and above the individual responsibility of other Presiding Bishops; Primuses, or Provincial Archbishops; who are Primus inter pares within their own Province.

This notion would make more obvious the fact that the Primacy of Canterbury - being collegial with the other Primates, Primuses, or Archbishops of the various Provincial Churches, ought never to be burdened with the assumption of a leadership role which over-rules the independence of any of the constituent Provinces of the Communion.

At present - pre-Covenant - there is no governing role for any particular 'Primus inter pares' that would bind other Provinces to Magisterial Rule (such as is exercised by the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church). A Covenant relationship could well seek to overturn this situation - the real possibility of which, other Provinces, such as the Scottish Episcopal Church and the American Episcopal Church, may be very well aware.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 12:37am BST
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