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60 Jurist 124 (2000)
Canon Law in Anglicanism

handle is hein.journals/juristcu60 and id is 126 raw text is: THE JURIST 60 (2000) 124-136

One cannot very well speak of Anglican Canon Law. There is no sin-
gle body of material that contains the law and polity of Anglicanism. But
perhaps, hesitantly, one may speak of canon law in Anglicanism. Even
then, the topic is difficult.
Anglicanism comprises a loose, world-wide, multi-cultural associa-
tion of provinces, all of them in communion with the see of Canterbury.
Most of them have historic ties with the Church of England. They usually
have derived their ministerial and sacramental life from the English
Church, and to some extent, their institutional life and canon law as well.
Their ways of believing, their styles of worshiping and living together all
in some way trace to the Western Catholic heritage as it was inherited and
developed in the history of the Church in England, especially as that his-
tory has developed since the sixteenth century. However, each province
is self-governing. No law, past or current, from the Church of England is
operative in any other province without re-enactment. Each province has
its own history of making, administering, and interpreting law. Some
provincial histories include a long period of dependence on the Church
of England which shaped their later life. Others, however, have hardly
any such institutional inheritance.
Anglican provinces have created some structures of association
among themselves-notably the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, which
meets every ten years. But all inter-Anglican encounters are for consul-
tation and exchange. They may advise, and their reports and recommen-
dations are received with respect. But they have no power to govern.
These independent churches of the Anglican communion show some
family resemblances in matters of authority, theology, liturgy, and eccle-
sial style of life. But there is no uniformity. When the bishops meet in
Lambeth, the assembly looks like the United Nations. With much diversi-
ty and with no governmental instrument to express the felt unity of Angli-
* Professor emeritus of liturgics and homiletics, Episcopal Divinity School, Cam-
bridge, MA.

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