The Anglican Communion is not the only communion of churches having difficulty reaching a settled state of tranquility on marriage in 2017. The controversy within the Roman Communion, sparked into deeper grumblings and rumblings with the recent publication of Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia, rolls on, as this Catholic Herald article reports.
It all seems very Anglican, this emerging phenomenon of local bishops determining pastoral practice (i.e. how their pastors should respond to the situations of remarried couples in respect of receiving the eucharist).
I happen to think it is the right thing to do because it allows the mercy of God to follow paths of discernment which acknowledge the complexities of life while being guided by principles. The alternative is to be bound by a one rule fits all approach. In the case of communion the latter approach is seriously at odds with the teaching of Jesus who was tightly prescriptive around marriage and divorce but never said a word about what state of purity a person needs to be in before permitted to share the eucharist. The eucharist, we might recall, at its first celebration included a traitor and a denier, to say nothing of ambitious would be prelates.
A specific point of reflection, however, for Anglicans looking across the Tiber at this ongoing (g)rumble could be this: marriage is doctrinally important!
It is so important that churches - not just funny old Anglicans - are hugely stressed when some aspect or other of marriage is tackled by bishops/commissions/synods with a view to making changes.
One strategy within our Anglican debates which keeps getting wheeled out, is what could be called the minimization strategy. As in "It's not a big deal, why so much fuss?" or "Hey, marriage as doctrine is not central 'cos it isn't mentioned in the creeds."
Try telling that to Cardinal Muller! Or Burke!!