…This further report comes before General Synod this week (as paper GS 2135). Anglican Catholic Future is glad to see that it picks up–or seems to pick up–a range of concerns raised in 2018 including:
- whether a partial development such as this–with interchangeability of ministry between two churches that remain distinct–aids or hinders the goal of full visible unity (section A1);
- whether the change in ecclesial life of the Methodist Church proposed in MMiCconstitutes a recognisable form of the historic episcopate (section B);
- the relation between Eucharistic presidency and episcopal ordination (section A3).
The working group has done important work in relation to the first of those questions, concerning the unity of the churches, which we welcome. When it comes to the other two questions that caused concern in early 2018, however, the document placed before Synod this week is far more problematic…
In our own February 2018 statement, we noted questions about whether the proposals would lead to unity, and whether the office of ‘President-bishop’ (to be held for one year only) could be recognized as a ‘local adaption’ of the historic episcopate of the catholic Church. We are grateful to note some progress with regard to the question of unity, but our question as to whether what is proposed is in fact episcopacy remains.
Our third and greatest concern was about the proposal to set aside the requirement that those who minister as priests in the Church of England should have been episcopally ordained to the office of priest. In response to this concern, which was shared by others, the General Synod asked the Faith and Order Commission to ‘explore and elucidate further the relationship between episcopal ordination and eucharistic presidency’. That the Commission has not attempted to offer such an elucidation is a deep disappointment…