At each step of the way, Rome pleaded with Anglicans to reject such grave departures from the orthodox Christian tradition. It may be that there will emerge from the breakup a new configuration of the Anglican Communion with which serious dialogue can be resumed. A few bishops of ECUSA and a larger number of clergy and parishes are involved in “continuing Anglican” movements and are working in tandem with the African and Asian provinces. A great deal depends upon how Canterbury, meaning the Church of England, positions itself in the rapidly advancing dissolution of what was the Anglican Communion. As of this week’s General Convention, however, one thing seems certain beyond doubt: The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has declared itself to be just another liberal Protestant denomination, in deliberate defiance of the Anglican Communion and in scornful indifference to a long history of hope for reconciliation with Catholicism. Yes, many, going back to John Henry Newman in the early nineteenth century, said that this would be the inevitable outcome of Anglicanism’s claim to be a “middle way” between liberalism and Catholicism, but it is nonetheless very sad to see it come to pass, and to see the self-congratulatory rejoicing of Episcopalians in celebratory assembly at the death of an honorable, if finally untenable, hope for greater Christian unity.
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