The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Primates of the Anglican Communion (we’ll have to find another name for it, soon, I fear). It is the mark of someone who truly has their vision on the things that matter, that their judgement still proves true when the situation changes. In the light of the disaster in Japan yesterday, it is a sign of the Archbishop’s vision that his letter focuses in part on the crucial importance of the Church’s response to natural disaster. He of course did not know that the earthquake was about to strike. That’s exactly the point; he was able to mention the first news of it in the context of the direction he was already offering to the churches.
Anglican Churches around the world are suffering significant persecution; they are living out – some of the very same churches – the gospel call to be ‘an effective, compassionate presence for the healing of a devastated community’. That is Christianity.
If the Primates of the Communion are to lead us into being that sort of church, the last thing we need to be doing is consuming ourselves in struggles about who is orthodox enough to be included. It is equally an outbreak of Christianity to hear the Archbishop say that ‘The unanimous judgement of those who were present was tha the Meeting should not see itself as a ‘supreme court’, with canonical powers, but that it should nevertheless be profoundly and regularly concerned with looking for ways of securing unity and building relationships of trust’. That is precisely how trust develops – by people meeting together and listening to one another at depth (as we have seen in the report of the continuing indaba of bishops from across the Communion).
It would be a fruitful Lenten discipline – if there is to be a thing called the Anglican Communion with any honesty in the future – for us all to take up the cross of praying for and supporting in their faith those who believe it very differently from ourselves.