Anglican Communion

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The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches. There is no single "Anglican Church" with universal juridical authority as each national or regional church has full autonomy. As the name suggests, the Anglican Communion is an association of these churches in full communion with the Church of England (which may be regarded as the mother church of the worldwide communion) and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.[1] The status of full communion means, ideally, that there is mutual agreement on essential doctrines, and that full participation in the sacramental life of each national church is available to all communicant Anglicans.

With approximately more than 80 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches,[2][3][4] though it may be eclipsed if the proposed merger of the Reformed Ecumenical Council and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches is ratified, producing a communion with around 87 million members.[5] Some of these churches are known as Anglican, explicitly recognising the historical link to England (Ecclesia Anglicana means "Church of England"); others, such as the American and Scottish Episcopal churches, or the Church of Ireland, prefer a separate name. Each church has its own doctrine and liturgy, based in most cases on that of the Church of England; and each church has its own legislative process and overall episcopal polity, under the leadership of a local primate.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, religious head of the Church of England, has no formal authority outside that jurisdiction, but is recognised as symbolic head of the worldwide communion. Among the other primates he is primus inter pares, which translates "first among equals".

The Anglican Communion considers itself to be part of the One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church and to be both Catholic and Reformed. For some adherents it represents a non-papal Catholicism, for others a form of Protestantism though without a dominant guiding figure such as Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli or Wesley.[6] For others, their self-identity represents some combination of the two. The communion encompasses a wide spectrum of belief and practice including evangelical, liberal, and Catholic.

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