The Archbishop of Canterbury claims he has done all he could to honor his promise to discipline the Episcopal Church, but has conceded he does not have the authority to impose his will upon the Anglican Consultative Council.
In a letter dated 16 March 2016 to the primates, the Most Rev. Justin Welby reported there had been “great rejoicing and thankfulness [over] the outcome of the Meeting”. Many Christians were grateful the primates “deeply divided in many areas, managed in the part of its leadership which is the Primates’ Meeting, to vote unanimously, amongst those present, to walk together.”
On 14 January 2016 the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Rev Mouneer Anis summarized the primates response to the Episcopal Church’s “fundamental departure from the church doctrine” by introducing same-sex marriage stating it “is not allowed now to represent the Communion in ecumenical and interfaith meetings. They cannot be elected or appointed in the standing committees of AC & ACC. They cannot participate in decision regarding doctrine and polity of the church for the upcoming 3 years.”
Archbishop Welby further stated the primates had also agreed, as individuals, to honor their agreement. “As you will remember, at that crucial moment, we undertook to seek personally to ensure that what we voted, was put into practise.”
He had done his part, he wrote. “[A]s I undertook to you, I have followed through by changing the representation of those bodies where I have the ability to make a decision, so as to put into effect the agreement we reached amongst ourselves.”
However, he could not dictate to the Anglican Consultative Council. “It is well recognised that there is no single body within the Anglican Communion that has juridical authority over individual provinces. We are autonomous but interdependent.”
He then stated: “For these reasons, I hope and pray that every province that is able will be present in Lusaka. The decisions we took in January can only have effect if they gain general ownership amongst the Communion, taking in laity, priests and bishops. Even if a province is not able to be present, I urge you to pray fervently for the outcome of the ACC.”
“Only those who are present will be able to make their voice heard and their votes effective,” he wrote, urging the primates to make “every effort” to ensure their church’s participation in the meeting.