[5] Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.

 

If we accept the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, we cannot say that we are ‘not in communion’ with women bishops. The Decree on Ecumenism teaches that there are degrees of communion: those ‘who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect’ (Unitatis Redintegratio, 3). So there is a communion that flows from our common baptism, albeit an imperfect communion.

 

Principle 5 calls on us to live in the highest degree of communion that is possible. But in saying this it recognizes that full communion will not be possible. Communion will be impaired, because the Church of England will no longer have an episcopate that enjoys full mutual recognition and interchangeability (just as it already does not have a priesthood of which that is true).

 

The Church of England will continue to be composed of Christians who share a common baptism and live in fellowship with each other and therefore in communion – albeit communion that is imperfect.

 

Within that canonical structure, the bishops, priests and people of The Society will enjoy full and unimpaired communion with each other.

 

Part of our vocation will be to keep a window of the Church of England open to the great Churches of East and West, and to continue a pattern of ministry that is in visible continuity with the Church through the ages and visibly congruent with what is upheld by the great majority of the Church throughout the world.