Apparently the deep and long standing tensions over the ordination of women may lead to an exodus from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) for the Anglo-Catholic minority. In a scene quite familiar to those with history in the Episcopal Church, the petition of those against the ordination of women to put that practice on hold until the whole ACNA had come to one mind resulted in the suggestion that those opposed to women's ordination might just hop the next train to Rome. In the end, some of those signaled that they got the message and the Bishops of the Anglo-Catholic ‘Missionary Diocese of All Saints‘ have said that they are considering doing just that -- except Rome is not the destination but, well, Poland. They are going to look at uniting with “Non-Papal Catholics” (specifically the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC).
The ACNA has preserved the broad/low church and anglo-catholic tensions that were such a problem in the Episcopal Church. It turns out those leaning more Protestant than catholic are very wedded to the ordination of women and have determined that this is a non-negotiable point. In the end, it may not be a one stop shopping trip for a destination. It seems that the Diocese of All Saints has clergy searching a variety of options -- from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter to the Western Rite Orthodox Vicarate for the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR), as well as the PNCC. It is not known at this time what the outcome of the 35 parishes might be. In any case, it is a wake up call for the ACNA.
And why does this matter? Because we generally like the idea of the ACNA, the LCMS has had conversations with the ACNA, and, depending on who you talk to, those conversations seem very fruitful. No, we are not even close to any fellowship agreement but we have spoken at length and in depth and have issued a few common statements. The real question is always, who are you talking to? It turned out the Rome was talking to a sliver of Lutheranism in the RC/Lutheran dialogues in the US because the church of most of those participants in the dialog ended up in the ELCA, a decidedly most uncatholic church when it comes to social positions and doctrinal integrity (even with the Book of Concord). It could turn out that we were talking with people who did not fairly represent the ACNA. I cannot say. But it is the problem inherent with ecumenical dialog. As much of a problem as it is, it is not enough of a problem to end such conversations -- only a warning and a caution before proceeding in the ultimate goal of agreement in the Gospel and all its articles.