The Church Times, UK, quotes the Archbishop of Canterbury as saying, "'The Episcopal Church had made a change to a “basic understanding of doctrine, ahead of the rest of the Communion and without consultation” he said. “We are not sanctioning them. We do not have the power to do so. We simply said, if any province, on a major issue of how the Church is run or what it believes, is out of line, there will be consequences in their full participation in the life of the Communion.”
Nice distinction. Let's see....facing consequences sounds logical. And so the ABC says, "“It is not a sanction but a consequence,” he repeated. “If you do X, Y will follow.” Now for something to be a consequence in the high reaches of Anglican-dom it must be because there is a polity for the logic. Logics follow patterns set down for the in basic propositions. To believe that there are consequences that logically flow from this or that action, you must first believe that there is order in our daily madness that makes it clear that this is a consequence that logically flows from action. So the difference between punishment sanctions (which could come from capricious action by the esteemed Primates) and simply requiring the Episcopal Church recognize the consequences of our actions is this: Sanctions proceed from power being exercised on the condemned, consequences proceed from the condemned own actions.
The difference is this: To the extent that the Episcopal Church did something wrong, it is their own fault, and we simply have to take the consequences.
Well there it is.
But it reminds me of something - the Anglican Covenant, a document by the way that has not been ratified by the Church of England, nor by the Episcopal Church. Here is what section four of that document says about consequences:
(4.2.7) On the basis of the advice received, the Standing Committee shall make recommendations as to relational consequences which flow from an action incompatible with
the Covenant. These recommendations may be addressed to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of the Communion and address the extent to which the decision of any covenanting Church impairs or limits the communion between that Church and the other Churches of the Communion, and the practical consequences of such impairment or limitation. Each Church or each Instrument shall determine whether or not to accept such recommendations.
(4.2.8) Participation in the decision making of the Standing Committee or of the Instruments of Communion in respect to section 4.2 shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.
Now the AC got to 4.2.7 and 4.2.8 by way of a process of taking some issue of contention to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. The whole effect of the previous sections of 4 is to slow down decisions by individual Provinces of the Anglican Communion so that consultation really took place and no one jumped ahead, or behind everyone else. But when you look at 4.2.7 and 4.2.8 here are the echoes of "consequences."
I believe the ABC and the Primates are acting AS IF the Anglican Covenant actually was in force and its logic was ruling such that sanctions were not in order, but rather consequences were.
But the AC is not in force except among those churches who have signed on. The CofE and TEC have not, nor have a number of other churches.
And, being perfectly clear, being told to stand in the corner by a body that does not have the power - logical, constitutional or otherwise - under the Anglican Covenant, and certainly not without it, is an exercise of Primatial power, not logic.
Fortunately for all concerned Primates have power, such as they have, within their respective churches. When they get together and say, "we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of
three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical
and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal
standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies
of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on
any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity." the Primates are REQUIRING. Where in Anglican polity do the Primates have the power to require?
Nowhere, except in the ephemeral Anglican Covenant and in the residual power of the Primates to make their representatives at the ACC do their will. It is, then, a matter of will, not logic, that operates here.
I believe the will of the ABC, and even of those Primates who strongly oppose what The Episcopal Church has done, is guided by the same forces that guide us all. We are all children of God and subject to the push that God gives to our callings. But good will is not enough here.
The first element of transparency is missing here: These are sanctions, not consequences, not unless people of will, good or otherwise, have already adopted the Anglican Covenant and its logic. So either the Primates are exercising power to sanction, or they are operating with the Anglican Covenant rules of engagement, or...both.