Thinking Anglicans

Primates Meeting: the Canadian view

The Primate of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has given an interview to the Anglican Journal. Read it at Interview with the Primate.

There is also a letter sent to the Canadian church, see Archbishop Hiltz reflects on the Primates’ Meeting.

Here is one extract from the interview:

Q: How important was it to have this conversation?

A: Absolutely, critically, important…When you have primates who say, “For reasons of conscience and for reasons of who’s going to be there, I’m not coming,” you really have to sit down and say, “Well, what really is the purpose of the primates’ meeting?” There are some of us who would [agree with the] Archbishop of Canterbury that “the primates’ meeting is a given, you’re a primate. I may not be excited about going to a primates’ meeting, I don’t look forward to it, but nonetheless I have an obligation to attend the primates’ meeting…” It’s not just about my own personal choice; when you go to the primates’ meeting you don’t represent yourself or your own conscience alone, you go representing your province. To say, ‘I won’t go’ in some sense is to deny the voice and perspective of your own church that you represent…We recalled the fact that [the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury] Donald Coggan, 20 years ago, envisioned the primates’ meeting as a place “for leisurely thought, prayer, and deep consultation.” And then [Archbishop of Canterbury] Rowan Williams gave a history of the last 10 years of the primates’ meeting…What happened was there was a call in the communion for enhanced responsibility on the part of the primates… the primates were assuming an authority [that] as a group was never intended.

Q: Has this issue been resolved?

A: It was pretty clear…among those who were present, and that would have been two-thirds of us…that we don’t speak on our behalf. We speak on behalf of the churches that we represent and what we heard across the board was that we don’t speak until we’ve consulted with the bishops or the synods and councils of our churches…Within the Communion…there are some who really speak for themselves and they don’t consult or speak for their bishops or their provinces… That’s not only creating some difficulties within the communion, but it’s also, to be honest, creating tension within their own provinces. Some bishops are feeling that their perspective is not represented by what their primate says, or they’re told they can’t go to meetings because their primate has told them not to. They’re denied being part of the wider councils of the church. That’s really unfair…

And another extract:

Q: There were primates with more conservative views on sexuality who boycotted the meeting, but were there others with similar views who chose to attend?

A: There was a good mix of people…Those who came…exhibited huge loyalty to the Archbishop of Canterbury, deep respect for his invitation to draw us together in consultation with one another and a huge amount of respect for the Instruments of Communion…there was honest exchange between individual primates. But I have to say that this meeting was not in any way dominated by discussions around sexuality. In fact, you actually would have to pull very hard to find references to it in our plenary conversations, which is amazing…The last few primates’ meetings have just been dominated by that issue, [the] actions of certain provinces and the reactions of other provinces to those actions, people not going to the Eucharist. None of that happened, everybody participated fully in every aspect of the meeting…People were together at the Eucharist, they were together at tea, they were together at plenary, they were together for prayer, for meals. There was a real sense of community there… The blessing of same-sex unions was just not a big ticket item, not a topic of discussion at this meeting. Not only was it not a big ticket item but nobody was saying, “When are we going to get to this issue?” which was quite profound. Likewise, with the [proposed Anglican] Covenant…there was a general feeling that…we need to let the provinces have the conversations…and we’re not going to enter into a big conversation about it until our provinces have spoken.

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Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Well, this answers one question I thought was left in the air. They all sat at ONE table.

I would like to see the “history” of the Primates Meeting as delivered by Rowan, and I don’t see any report on the question “Are we a Church or a Communion?” how did the Primates respond to that?

Otherwise ….. it shows an interesting personal view …..

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Well, they have dialed it back!

Tobias Haller
Guest

It sounds as if the Primate is about to launch into a chorus of “I sing a song of the saints of God!” Could do worse things. If an accurate representation, this is how it ought to be — Primates bringing the concerns and insights of their own churches to the table of conversation and the table of the Lord.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

This is a good and insightful interview. Canada is fortunate to have the Primate we have. The answer to the question, has this issue been resolved, is worth noting. “what we heard across the board was that we don’t speak until we’ve consulted with the bishops or the synods and councils of our churches…Within the Communion…there are some who really speak for themselves and they don’t consult or speak for their bishops or their provinces… That’s not only creating some difficulties within the communion, but it’s also, to be honest, creating tension within their own provinces”. This perspective is very… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

“There was a call in the communion for enhanced responsibility on the part of the primates.” Really? Who exactly issued this call? And what exactly is “enhanced responbility.” This double-speak.

Prior Aelred
Guest

Martin, I believe that the answer to the question has to be, “No.” We are certainly NOT a church & if such a sizable percentage boycott (excuse me, “refuse to attend if Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Shori is present”) because they won’t receive Communion with her, then we are not a “Communion” either.

David bewley
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David bewley

Regarding “enhanced responsibilities” for the Primates’ Meeting:
Resolution 18 (2a)of the 1988 Lambeth conference stated:
“2. (a) urges that encouragement be given to a developing collegial role for the Primates’ Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates’ Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.”

They didn’t say what “enhanced responsibility” actually covered.

David

Nat
Guest
Nat

Extremely well put!

Nat

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

I have a bit of concern if Primates are considered to represent their Provinces proportionately to their numbers as a percentage of the Communion. No Primate should ever say that they deserve greater attention because the “represent” more people. The GAFCON gang are constantly saying that they are a “majority” because of the numbers they claim to represent. Yet they speak mostly for themselves and their provinces may have little input or idea what is being said or done in their name. The way numbers are reported varies widely within the Communion and must be taken with handfuls of salt.… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

“”There was a call in the communion for enhanced responsibility on the part of the primates.” Really? Who exactly issued this call?”

Why, the Primates, of course! Well, *some* of the Primates. But put it in the passive voice and it looks so much more credible, doesn’t it?

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Surprise, no discussion of sexuality when the boycotters stay away. It is their problem and they just need time to get over it. I suggest they continue to be invited and to be allowed to boycott until their indignation dies down.

evensongjunkie
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evensongjunkie

Agree with you completely Spirit…just ignore the tantrums (but not the results in murders, that needs to be addressed) and the spoiled brats will eventually cry themselves out.