by Father Dan Martins:
In our creeds, we profess that the Church is “apostolic.” In our baptismal vows, we affirm fidelity to the “fellowship of the apostles.” Yes, without Canterbury, we would still have the historic episcopate (a chain of bishops-in-succession that can be transparently followed back to the original apostles) as a sign of our visible connection to the church that was “born” on the day of Pentecost. But it’s alarmingly easy to reach an abstract and mechanistic understanding of “apostolic succession” that leads to such anomalies as episcopi vagantes—in effect, bishops without churches. A healthy catholic ecclesiology certainly includes bishops in historic succession, but it also includes something more organic and more dispersed throughout the whole community of the faithful, a succession not simply of apostolic bishops, but of apostolic churches. The element of ecclesial security that a connection to Canterbury provides is simply this: the church of Canterbury is a church that is not just old, but was itself established by a church that was founded by not one, but two, apostles: Ss Peter and Paul. Canterbury is the token of the apostolicity of my particular church. Being tied to Canterbury is not magic. It guarantees nothing in and of itself. But, as part of a system of connections and reference points, it is invaluable, and ought not to be tossed aside, even for reasons that, in the thick of present but ultimately passing conflict, appear weighty.
Read it all here.