The Primate painted a picture of deep division at the gathering in Northern Ireland. Among the 38 Primates attending the gathering, a group of about a dozen from the global South shunned the North Americans (Archbishop Hutchison and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.).
These Primates, who were primarily from Africa and Latin America (the Southern Cone), petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, not to hold a daily eucharist at the gathering. When the eucharist was held with a chaplain presiding, they would not attend. When the Archbishop of Canterbury invited all to attend the final eucharist at which he would preside, they refused to attend.
The same group was also involved in leaking information from the Primates’ sessions, which are held “in camera,” to the media. The final report of the meeting was released a day early because an earlier and erroneous version had appeared in the press.
Archbishop Hutchison spoke with anger and passion about these same bishops who, without notice, suddenly abandoned the Primates’ meeting for an afternoon and evening. “The Archbishop of Canterbury left the chair,” he said. “The Africans had decided to meet off site and had taken others with them.” The 16 bishops remaining had received no prior notice from Archbishop Williams or the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion that this was taking place. “It seemed our agenda was hijacked and put in the hands of others,” the Primate said.
Today Bill Bowder in the Church Times reports that English can’t throw stones – Hutchison:
THE CANADIAN PRIMATE, the Most Revd Andrew Hutchison, has suggested that the blessing of same-sex relationships is much more prevalent in England than in Canada.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Archbishop Hutchison said: “There are many priests conducting same-sex blessings sub rosa with the full knowledge of the bishops, but without any sanctions. This is going on in the Church of England, unannounced, all the time.
“I know of one report from one bishop in England that this is now done in 14 dioceses. From a report by the English House of Bishops, it is quite clear that they know this.
“For the Church of England to do any posturing about Canada being out of order is frankly ridiculous.”
By contrast, he said, “In Canada, if a priest gives an informal blessing, and I know of two instances, that priest is disciplined by his bishop immediately. That does not happen in England, where you have a much bigger problem. A little transparency would be helpful.”
This story also reports the opinions of Nigel McCulloch on the ECUSA HoB:
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, attended the US House of Bishops’ meeting in Texas ( News, 18 March). He said this week that he was “realistically optimistic” about the chances that the Anglican Communion would hold together.
He said that the US bishops had been “stunned” by the Primates’ reaction in February. He said he had received a standing ovation, after telling the bishops of the seriousness of the issue. “I said that this decision would have its knock-on effect on other churches, including the Church of England.”
Bishop McCulloch felt that the US bishops at their meeting had a very deep sense of communion with Anglicans across the world. “They also valued their sense of personal communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
The bishops’ agreement not to consecrate any more bishops for 18 months was “a costly thing”, he said.