The Anglican Communion is an international association of autonomous churches consisting of the Church of England and national and regional Anglican churches ("provinces") in full communion with it. Full participation in the sacramental life of each church is available to all communicant Anglicans.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England, has a place of honour among the bishops of the Anglican churches. He is recognised as primus inter pares ("first among equals"). The archbishop does not exercise authority in the provinces outside England, but instead acts as a focus of unity.
The churches of the Anglican Communion considers themselves to be part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and to be both Catholic and Reformed. For some adherents, Anglicanism 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. 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 Anglo-Catholic.
With a membership estimated at around 85 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some of these churches are known as Anglican, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, due to their historical link to England (Ecclesia Anglicana means "English Church"). Some, for example the Church of Ireland, the Scottish and American Episcopal churches, and some other associated churches have a separate name. Each independent church has its own doctrine and liturgy, aligned 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....LESS