U.S. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori recently described the global Anglican Communion as "a bunch of teenagers growing up and finding their adult identity."
"I don't have a better image for it than that at the moment," she said in an interview with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C.
She explained, "Like teenagers, there's rebellion against the parents. And some people see the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury as the big parent in the system."
But Jefferts Schori, the first female primate (or chief bishop of one of the communion's 38 provinces), doesn't believe that's a fair way of looking at it.
"We're siblings," she said in the interview, adding that the U.S. body became the first separate church that was in full communion relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Earlier this month, The Episcopal Church was removed from ecumenical dialogues and stripped of decision-making powers on an Anglican body that examines issues of doctrine and authority. The sanctions were carried out against the U.S. body as a consequence for defying the Anglican Communion's moratorium and ordaining an openly lesbian bishop last month.
The Episcopal Church is still a part of the communion but just removed from representative functions.
The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said the U.S. body should have expected the sanctions when it ordained the Rev. Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles.
Kearon also made clear in a visit with Episcopal Church leaders last week that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams – who is considered the spiritual leader of the global body – has "limited authority."
"Everywhere I go, everyone wants him to act as a sort of an Anglican pope as long as he does what [they] want him to do," Kearon noted, according to the Episcopal News Service.
For years, conservative Anglicans have called on Williams to discipline The Episcopal Church and other bodies that defy the rest of the communion. Anglican leaders had agreed to a moratorium on the consecration of bishops living in same-sex relationships and reaffirmed it a number of times since 2004. The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003.
When describing the state of the Anglican family, Jefferts Schori told WRAL that it "won't be as solid as I would like it to be until the second coming."
The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian body in the world with 77 million members.