Friday, 4 February 2011

Primates Meeting: church press reports


In the Church Times Ed Beavan reports under the headline Williams plans trips to mend fences

THE Archbishop of Canterbury will engage in a round of shuttle diplomacy in an attempt to improve relations with the Global South primates who boycotted last week’s primates’ Meeting.

Speaking during the closing press conference at the Emmaus Centre, near Dublin, on Sunday afternoon, Dr Williams spoke of his plans to visit some of the provinces of the absent Primates, such as South-East Asia. He said that he had recently met the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, one of the Primates who did not attend, taking part in “a very long and detailed conversation on a variety of matters”.

Such diplomatic endeavours would be a “long task”, he said; and trying to keep the diverse Com­munion together was “difficult”; but “the task we’ve been given, it’s part of the gift of living in the Church” and “part of the cross we carry”.

Dr Williams acknowledged that there remains a “critical situation” in the Anglican Communion. “Nobody would deny that. But that critical situation has not ended the rela­tionships, often very cordial and very constructive, between Churches within the Communion.”

And Ed also wrote Impressions of ‘gracefulness’.

THE Dublin Primates’ Meeting represented “comfort-zone Angli­can­­ism”, the Bishop of Argentina and chairman of the conservative GAFCON network, the Rt Revd Greg Venables, said this week.

Speaking on behalf of the GAFCON Primates of Uganda, Rwanda, West Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Southern Cone — none of whom went to Dublin — Bishop Venables said that the meeting “had ignored the difficult issues that divide us.

“There was a denial of the serious­ness of the crisis facing the Communion which led to the absence of Primates representing two-thirds of the Anglican Com­munion, and there remains a com­plete lack of trust, which every day is getting worse.

“The Dublin meeting has just made things worse, as they did not deal with the reasons why people stayed away, or the causes of the divisions in the Anglican Church.”

Commenting on the new defini­tion of the standing committee of the Primates’ Meeting, Bishop Venables said that the creation of a new “centralised” body reminded him of Animal Farm: “It seems all Primates are equal but some are more equal than others.”

Update There is a further related report: Ed Thornton Kato murder ‘profoundly shocking’ - Dr Williams

Speaking at a press conference after the Primates’ Meeting, on Sunday, Dr Williams said that Mr Kato’s murder “illustrates the fact that words have results…When­ever people use any kind of language that dehumanises or demeans such persons [as homosexuals], we have to think these are the possible con­sequences.”

Dr Williams noted that the Arch­bishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Henry Orombi, was “a signatory, along with all the other Primates to . . . statements . . . deploring and condemning all violence and de­meaning language about homo­sexual persons”.

When contacted, the Archbishop of York’s office said that Dr Sen­tamu would not be com­menting on the murder of Mr Kato, and referred to Dr Williams’s statement.

There is editorial comment at Leader: Decommissioning. It concludes with this:

…Those unfamiliar with recent Anglican history might overlook the importance of that dull list produced in Dublin, with an even duller title: “Towards an Understanding of the Purpose and Scope of the Primates’ Meeting”. Until their principled — and possibly unwise — decision to give the Primates’ Meeting up as a bad job, the conservatives saw the gathering as a potential power-base to rival the other instruments of the Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury was an individual attached awkwardly to an ex-colonial power; the Lambeth Conference met only once a decade; and the Anglican Consultative Council, well . . . This left the Primates’ Meeting, the most representative body in the Communion — if you saw no need to represent lay people, the parish clergy, women, etc. Not only did it meet every two years: there was the prospect of a permanent standing committee, which could govern between meetings.

Suddenly there was the prospect of an effective, powerful gov­ern­ing body, in charge of theological and ethical pronounce­ments, discipline, and membership. Furthermore, the con­servatives might be strong enough to control it. It is in this light that the redefinition of the Primates’ Meeting, framed in their absence, must be seen. Note how the document refers to “taking counsel”, “being collegial”, “being consultative”, and “acknow­ledging diversity and giving space for difference”. On the pressing issues of faith, order, and ethics, the Primates are merely to “seek continuity and coherence”, whatever that means. And the standing committee has been tucked neatly away, to “act as a consultative council for the Archbishop of Canterbury” and to care for the “life and spirit” of the Primates’ Meeting, whatever that means. If the conservatives ever choose to return, they will find that the guns have been spiked.

Over at the Church of England Newspaper George Conger has written a report titled Dublin primates meeting marks an ‘end to the communion as we know it’.

He quotes conservative spokesmen as follows:

A spokesman for the Gafcon movement told The Church of England Newspaper that it was unlikely the primates affiliated with the conservative reform movement would comment on the meeting. Each archbishop made his own decision whether or not to attend, the spokesman explained, and there is no common response yet to what took place in Dublin.

A senior Global South leader told CEN, the Dublin meeting was “irrelevant” to several of the absent primates. “It doesn’t mean a thing to them,” he noted.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Williams’ sole power lay in his ability to call meetings of the church. Lambeth and now Dublin has shown he has lost this “moral authority” as his invitations now go unanswered, the bishop noted. Dr. Williams cannot now claim that he speaks for a majority of Anglicans, he said.

(The quote used in the headline does not appear in the body of the article, but Dr Philip Turner, of the Anglican Communion Institute is quoted as saying

The “fabric” of the communion remains torn “because of a failure in leadership,” he said, noting that the “communion as we have known it is gone.”)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 9:15am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Well, Abp Williams gives new meaning to the phrase "going the extra mile" -- his frequent flyer stats will be fabulous. The boycotters are distraught that no one bothered to discuss their issues in Dublin. I'm sure the assembled bishops relished the comfort-zone after so many nagfests from their difficult cousins.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 10:53am GMT

So, apparently, even when they don't show up, the GS primates get what they want from the meeting?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 11:35am GMT

There is an enormous amount of spin and deliberate misinformation going on here.

The Primates Meeting overreached itself at Dar es Salaam. It had been taken over by outsiders who who calling the shots and the meeting was underpinned by threats and girded by fear. It has always been a matter of bemusement to me that the otherwise reasonably bright lads at the ACI/Fulcrum axis somehow wanted to finesse this disaster and went on (and continue to demand) the supremacy of this group. There is also much mention of the failure of the 2008 Lambeth Conference to make decisions - yet reading the outcomes it is clear that the Lambeth Fathers thought "rule by Primates" had been a something of a failure and it was time for a review - something they completely overlook, so thoroughly wedded are they to this method of governance - and so determined are they to diss the last Lambeth Conference.

In my view the present report from the Primates still places on themselves the role of "leadership" - a role they have yet to prove themselves fit in their present dysfunctional state. Yet that word seem to have passed these observers by in their desire to claim a victory for TEC polity due to the Global South boycott.

What is clear, and I think this is the point of all this clamouring, is that the ACNA group have failed to dislodge TEC. Those churches who have already accepted ACNA and rejected TEC and ACoC as the legitimate Anglican presence in North America must now form a subgroup. My view here is that ACNA was highly premature and probably would have had some success at an institutional level had it managed to contain itself and the ambitions of those who now lead it.

There has been some poor decisions - not to attend Lambeth and to break off now from attending Primates Meetings - are all poor tactics when so much would be different if they had stayed on board. Ambitious men have derailed this, people who wanted their way NOW or at least in the relatively near future. The long game was ignored and now ACNA will probably never be accepted and will probably fragment (which I think is sad from at least one perspective).

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 11:37am GMT

What a blatant power play from the GS Primates who stayed away. They absent themselves and then claim that they were not represented. They then claim that +Rowan Williams has lost his leadership role because he can only call meetings - which they will refuse to attend. Venables says that they didn't discuss the important issues (to the GS) while he and his friends were not there participate anyway. If they had, the attenders would have been scorned, whatever they might have said. This is irresponsible and childish beyond description. Manipulation, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. A true witness to the Gospel.

Posted by: Richard Grand on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 1:13pm GMT

My question is: Why do people who stay away and then take potshots afterward get so much attention? They refuse to make themselves available or to engage in dialogue and then they make pronouncements which are presented to us by the media as if they have some kind of authority. Why do people who deliberately sabotage still get a platform for sabotage? Why do we pay so much attention to the petulant and the naysayers? They gain so much by staying away because we must hear their reasons as spouted by their supporters and admirers-the usual suspects. If a parishioner refuses to attend Vestry Meeting and then complains about the decisions or the other attenders, don't we move on? It's like people who complain about who gets elected but never vote.

Posted by: Richard Grand on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 1:21pm GMT

Two things, briefly:

I do not mind the Primates showing "leadership" as long as they don't try "governance."

All of this goes to show that the main "reality" of Anglicanism as far as some are concerned involves "showing up to meetings." This is an error on both sides. Though such things are important, the real work of the Communion takes place in the many other interchanges supported by the bonds of affection, quite apart from the "Instruments" -- which to my mind provide mostly background music to the real fellowship.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 2:48pm GMT

Well, Tobias, while accepting much of what you say - I still like Desmond Tutu's definition of what constituted the Anglican Communion

"We meet."

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 5:19pm GMT

"The Archbishop of Canterbury will engage in a round of shuttle diplomacy in an attempt to improve relations with the Global South primates who boycotted last week’s primates’ Meeting."

Is it OK to pray that his staff locks up the theological and ecclesiological silver while he's frequently flying?

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 6:45pm GMT

The Bishop of Argentina, Greg Venables might as well start paying better attention to the flock at home and stop dabbling in other peoples religious understandings/business now that he is no longer Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone nor a Anglican Primate--like his pals at Gafcon, their extra special super duper moralizing isn´t something that anyone pays much attention to, or lives by, or gives credibility to on their very home vertically corrupt turf...meanwhile, the LEGAL LGBTI Marriages in Argentina ought be ¨mission¨ enough for +Greg to focus on...a giant chunk of real vs. pomposity defeated along with ¨revisionist¨ fading pretend.

Lots to fret about at Gafcon and beyond but The Episcopal Church in the United States and The Anglican Church of Canada ought NOT be amongst targets to purify the souls of those who do little but strut/destruct and try to outshout the wholesome reality unfolding at The worldwide Anglican Communion!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 8:22pm GMT

@Dr Phillip Turner---

The Anglican Communion is dead: long live the Anglican Communion!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 8:25pm GMT

The “communion as we have known it is gone.”
This seems just plain wrong -- the communion as we have known it is still there -- the primates that didn't want to be a part of it chose to absent themselves because the totally different "communion" that the Gafconites wanted to create didn't happen.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 9:23pm GMT

"Dr Philip Turner, of the Anglican Communion Institute is quoted as saying ...that the 'communion as we have known it is gone.'”

I had hoped that, due to the absence of the GS Primates, we would be spared another apocalyptic pronouncement from them, or the four men and a fax machine who refer to themselves as an "institute". But no ... One more time they have to light their hair on fire and run about the meadow, flailing their arms and proclaiming the end of everything.

Actually, in the absence of the GS Primates, the majority of Primates in the Communion chose to return to what the Primates' meetings have been about since they began. It seems that the GS Primates are failing in their homophobic and authoritarian agenda for the Anglican Communion. Indeed, acording to a senior GS leader,"It"... (presumably the Primates Meeting)..."doesn't mean a thing to them."

Evidently, along with Elvis, the GS Primates "have left the building."

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 10:11pm GMT

Second what Prior Aelred said.....

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Saturday, 5 February 2011 at 12:58am GMT

The Anglican Communion which Dr. Turner says is gone is an Anglican Communion that never existed. The centralized, curial and authoritarian Anglican Communion that these six bad writers with a website keep referring to is a fabrication.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Saturday, 5 February 2011 at 5:56am GMT

One more time they have to light their hair on fire and run about the meadow, flailing their arms and proclaiming the end of everything.

My sister that image made me howl with laughter!

Posted by: Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed on Sunday, 6 February 2011 at 5:07am GMT

Pt. 2 from above...After Lambeth 2008 failed to do what Radner+ wanted, he did not seem to give it the credibility he had forecast. The same may be the case for the Primates Meeting. If the Meeting does what is desired, Dromantine and Dar-es-Salaam, then it is authoritative, if it doesn't, then it isn't. Again, if ++Rowan Williams does what is wanted, he is authoritative, if not, he isn't. Terry Holmes in What is Anglicanism wrote: "Clarity of authority should not be expected--in fact , it should be suspect--when we are attempting to make clear the infinite mind of God for the finite minds of humankind. When Anglicanism is true to its concept of authority, this apparent hesitance to say 'Thus saith the Lord!'---only to have to spend the next hundred years subtlely qualifying 'what the Lord said' is not a sign of weakness, but evidence of strength and wisdom" I think I agree but might add an evidence too of humility.

Posted by: EmilyH on Sunday, 6 February 2011 at 7:21pm GMT

"The Pri­mate of the West Indies, the Most Revd John Holder, said that there had always been differences in the Anglican Communion, not just over human sexuality, but the Church had always “worked out ways and means of dealing with differ­ences”.

- Ed Beavan, Church Times article -

Certainly, that used to be the 'Anglican Way'. But not since the GAFCON 'Jerusalem Statement', which virtually outlawed anyone who didn't agree with them on issues of gender and sexuality. Of course, they tried to make out it was primarily not so much about sexuality as adherence to the Victorian understanding of Biblical inerrancy. But, clearly, today's knowledge of human nature, and specifically its inclusion of differences in gender and sexual giftedness, continues to flutter the doves in their dove-cote of out-dated Victorian precepts re the relationship between love and sexuality.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 8 February 2011 at 9:43am GMT
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