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ANGLICAN COMMUNION

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 19 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ANGLICAN COMMUNION, the name used to denote that great branch of the Christian Church consisting of the various churches in communion with the Church of England. The necessity for such a phrase as " Anglican Communion," first used in the 19th century, marked at once the immense development of the Anglican Church in modern times and the change which his taken place in the traditional conceptions of its character and sphere. The Church of England itself is the subject of a separate article (see ENGLAND, CHURCH OF); and it is not without significance that for more than two centuries after the Reformation the history of Anglicanism is practically confined to its developments within the limits of the British Isles. Even in Ireland, where it was for over three centuries the established religion, and in Scotland, where it early gave way to the dominant Presbyterianism, its religious was long overshadowed by its political significance. The Church, in fact, while still claiming to be Catholic in its creeds and in its religious practice, had ceased to be Catholic in its institutional conception, which was now bound up with a particular state and also with a particular conception of that state. To the native Irishman and the Scots-man, as indeed to most Englishmen, the Anglican Church was one of the main buttresses of the supremacy of the English crown and nation. This conception of the relations of church and state was hardly favourable to missionary zeal; and in the age succeeding the Reformation there was no disposition on the part of the English Church to emulate the wonderful activity of the Jesuits, which, in the 16th and 17th centuries, brought to the Church of Rome in countries beyond the ocean compensation for what she had lost in Europe through the Protestant reformation. Even when English churchmen passed beyond the seas, they carried with them their creed, but not their ecclesiastical organization. Prejudice and real or imaginary legal obstacles stood in the way of the erection of episcopal sees in the colonies; and though in the 17th century Archbishop Laud had attempted to obtain a bishop for Virginia, up to the time of the American revolution the churchmen of the colonies had to make the best of the legal fiction that their spiritual needs were looked after by the bishop of London, who occasionally sent commissaries to visit them and ordained candidates for the ministry sent to England for the purpose. The change which has made it possible for Anglican churchmen to claim that their communion ranks with those of Rome and the Orthodox East as one of the three great historical divisions of the Catholic Church, was due, in the first instance, to the American revolution. The severance of the colonies from their allegiance to the crown brought the English bishops for the first time face to face with the idea of an Anglican Church which should have nothing to do either with the royal supremacy or with British nationality. When, on the conclusion of peace, the church-people of Connecticut sent Dr Samuel Seabury to England, with a request to the archbishop of Canterbury to consecrate him, it is not surprising that Archbishop Moore refused. In the opinion of prelates and lawyers alike, an act of parliament was necessary before a bishop could be consecrated for a see abroad; to consecrate one for a foreign country seemed impossible, since, though the bestowal of the poteslas ordinis would be valid, the crown, which, according to the law, was the source of the episcopal jurisdiction, could hardly issue the necessary mandate for the consecration of a bishop to a sec outside the realm (see Bishop). The Scottish bishops, however, being hampered by no such legal restrictions, were more amen-able; and on the 11th of November 1784 Seabury was consecrated by them to the see of Connecticut. In 1786, on theinitiative of the archbishop, the legal difficulties in England were removed by the act for the consecration of bishops abroad; and, on being satisfied as to the orthodoxy of the church in America and the nature of certain liturgical changes in contemplation, the two English archbishops proceeded, on the 14th of February 1787, to consecrate William White and Samuel Prevoost to the sees of Pennsylvania and New York (see
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