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.