Thinking Anglicans

Why do the Primates meet?

Savitri Hensman writes in the Guardian about the Ascent of the Anglican primates.

More than a third of those invited to a recent Anglican primates’ meeting were unable or unwilling to attend. There has been much debate about whose fault this was. But there are more basic questions. How useful are such meetings (which aim to bring together the most senior bishops from each province) and how much power should be given to bishops and archbishops?

Paul Bagshaw has commented further on this in Ascent of the Primates.

The voice of the laity has almost no place in the centralised and curial world envisaged in the Covenant, as was evident from its inception. This is from a report to General Synod in 2007, responding to the Nassau draft which Jonathan Clatworthy and I wrote with John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln:

4.8 The absent laity

Apart from a brief, factual, mention in §5 para. 6 the laity are invisible in this Draft Covenant. If the Draft’s processes were to be implemented the voice of the laity would be utterly peripheral and rendered inaudible. This is a contradiction of an ecclesiology in which the Church is ‘the blessed company of all faithful people’ (Book of Common Prayer, 1662). To marginalise the laity in decision making would be to hobble the body of Christ, to undermine the faithful work of the people of God, and to diminish the quality of ecclesial life.

It’s worth looking back to what the primates themselves said about this in Dublin (scroll down for the full text of Towards an Understanding of the Purpose and Scope of the Primates’ Meeting: A working document)

And here is yet another view, from Benjamin Guyer at Covenant The Primates’ Meeting, 2011: Mis-Representation and the Failure to Resolve.

If we are going to enter into these kinds of necessary critiques, then we ought to do so while recognizing the institutional ends and the limits of the Primates’ Meeting. Otherwise our critiques will be rooted in expectations and assumptions that are either unfair or, what is worse, false.

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Father Ron SmithJPMBill MoorheadJCFMarkBrunson Recent comment authors
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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Savitri Hensman’s article is spot on. When
I was a child there was no such thing as “Primates meetings”. Right on. Instruments of communion? Phooey. We are a long way off from the gathering and vision of the Anglican Congress. The best thing Primates from Canada, U.S. and other synodical countries could do is simply stay home–not to protest innovation in morality but to end innovation in hierarchy.

kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

Surely the Primates meet to assist in advancing in some way the field of ecclesiastical zoology?

Given the behaviour of certain occupants of the episcopal apiary, it’s not surprising they’ve decided that the world within the cage is all that really matters. They’ve been helped along very nicely by various pressure groups, who insist on ignoring the sign and feeding the poor beasts, while others poke through the bars with a stick. No wonder some of them get so shirty at times.

MarkBrunson
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Why do the Primates meet?

Because the “absent laity” keep footing the bill to allow them to. Make them pay their own way, and bet they’ll stop all the meeting.

JCF
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JCF

Heh, looks like the Anglican Primates have finally united the Communion . . . *against* them! ;-/

Bill Moorhead
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Bill Moorhead

Amen to Rod Gillis. As usual, Ms. Hensman is spot on. I hope the next Archbishop of Canterbury hires her as his chief of staff. (In fact, +Rowan, it’s not too late even now. Get rid of all the Lambeth toadies and call Savitri in to clean the place up.)

JPM
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JPM

Sometimes it seems that the primates meet in order to plot and conspire against the laity.

It’s time to clip their wings.

Father Ron Smith
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With 2 sets of ‘Anglican’ Primates (GAFCON and SIGNIFICANT OTHERS) seeking pre-eminence in the Anglican Communion at the present time, to whom should we look for guidance?

My bet is with those who want to advance the Inclusive message of the Gospel – with or without the convenience of The Covenant.