Thinking Anglicans

Communiqué from the Primates

The Communiqué from the Primates meeting has been released and is copied below.

Walking Together in the Service of God in the World

The meeting of Anglican Primates, the senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces, joined by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, took place in Canterbury between Monday 11 January and Friday 15 January at the invitation of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first morning was spent in prayer and fasting.

We came knowing that the 2016 Primates’ meeting would be concerned with the differences among us in regard to our teaching on matters of human sexuality. We were also eager to address wider areas of concern.

The meeting started by agreeing the agenda. The first agreed item was to discuss an important point of contention among Anglicans worldwide: the recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA.

Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ. We looked at what that meant in practical terms.

We received the recommendation of a working group of our members which took up the task of how our Anglican Communion of Churches might walk together and our unity be strengthened. Their work, consistent with previous statements of the Primates’ meetings, addressed what consequences follow for The Episcopal Church in relation to the Anglican Communion following its recent change of marriage doctrine. The recommendations in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Addendum A below are:

“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

“We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”

These recommendations were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.

We will develop this process so that it can also be applied when any unilateral decisions on matters of doctrine and polity are taken that threaten our unity.

The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.

We affirmed the consultation that had taken place in preparation for the meeting by Archbishop Welby and commended his approach for future events within the Communion.

The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction.

In the wake of the climate change conference in Paris last month, the meeting heard about a petition of almost two million signatures co-coordinated by the Anglican Environment Network. Reports were made about moves to divest from fossil fuels, the expansion of the African Deserts and the struggle for survival of the peoples of the Pacific as island life is threatened in many places by the rise of sea levels.

The meeting discussed the reality of religiously motivated violence and its impact on people and communities throughout the world. Primates living in places where such violence is a daily reality spoke movingly and passionately about their circumstances and the effect on their members. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has taken important initiatives in bringing people together from a range of faith communities globally for discussion and mutual accountability. The Anglican Primates repudiated any religiously motivated violence and expressed solidarity with all who suffer from this evil in the world today.

The Primates look forward to the proposal being brought to the Anglican Consultative Council for comprehensive child protection measures to be available throughout all the churches of the Communion.

In a presentation on evangelism, the Primates rejoiced that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to bear witness to the transforming power of the love of God in Jesus Christ. The Primates were energised by the opportunity to share experiences of evangelism and motivated to evangelise with their people.

“The Primates joyfully commit themselves and the Anglican Church, to proclaim throughout the world the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.”

(See Addendum B.)

The Primates supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020.

Primates discussed tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism and patronage networks, and the deep evil of corruption. They reflected that these issues become inextricably connected to war and violence, and derive from poverty. They agreed to ask the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion to commission a study for the next Primates’ meeting. The Primates agreed to meet again in 2017 and 2019.

The Primates owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of the Anglican Communion Office, and especially the Secretary General, to the staff at Lambeth Palace and at Church House Westminster. The Primates were especially grateful for the warm welcome, generous hospitality and kindness offered by the Dean of Canterbury and all at the Cathedral. Their contribution was very important in setting the mood of the meeting in prayer and mutual listening. Thanks to the Community of St Anselm for their prayer, help and support, Jean Vanier for his inspiring addresses, and the Community of St Gregory for the loan of the crosier head to sit alongside the St Augustine gospels.

The Primates received their time together as a gift from God and experienced many signs of God’s presence amongst us. They appreciated the personal care and humility shown by the Archbishop of Canterbury especially in his chairing of the meeting. We leave our week together enriched by the communion we share and strengthened by the faithful witness of Anglicans across the world. The Primates deeply appreciate the prayers of many throughout the world over our time together.

[The two Addenda are below the fold.]

Addendum A

1.We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.

2.Recent developments in the Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.

3.All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.

4.The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.

5.In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.

6.Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.

7.It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years TEC no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

8.We have asked the ABC to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.

Addendum B

We, as Anglican Primates, affirm together that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to bear witness to the transforming love of God in the power of the Spirit throughout the world.

It is clear God’s world has never been in greater need of this resurrection love and we long to make it known.

We commit ourselves through evangelism to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.

We rely entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us speech, brings new birth, leads us into the truth revealed in Christ Jesus thus building the church.

All disciples of Jesus Christ, by virtue of our baptism, are witnesses to and of Jesus in faith, hope and love.

We pledge ourselves together to pray, listen, love, suffer and sacrifice that the world may know that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Come Holy Spirit.

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James Byron
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James Byron

“The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.”

Better proof that these people are an irony-free zone you’ll never have. Just how d’you end up so devoid of self-awareness?

Mr David
Guest
Mr David

God bless America.

“The first morning was spent in prayer and fasting.”

Would that be between breakfast and lunch? No biscuits with their morning coffee?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

So it was a “primates’ meeting” after all? After having been advertised as a “primates’ gathering”?

Justin Welby: master of the bait and switch.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The final communiqué is much like Archbishop Welby’s opening rhetorical exercise i.e. one part Christian chauvinism and one part self-delusion. ACNA’s Beach is reported as saying he is disappointed the sanctions did not include Canada as they should. You know what, as a Canadian, I actually agree with this guy on that. Canada should have insisted it be included in the sanctions. It should have screamed if you sanction the Americans then you sanction us. Doing so would have put is in clear solidarity with TEC and with GLBTQ members including those Canadian Anglican clergy who are in same sex… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together.”

Is this true? I thought I saw a report that Uganda’s motion to throw TEC out failed by 20 votes to 15.

That doesn’t sound like a “unanimous decision to walk together.” It sounds like precisely the opposite.

Michael Ingham
Guest
Michael Ingham

The key word in the Primates’ statement with respect to TEC is “require.” The Primates “require” that TEC not have representatives on ecumenical or interfaith bodies for a period of three years, and they “require” that no member of TEC be elected to any internal standing committee of the Communion. But the Primates can’t “require” anything at all in these matters. They are not a legislative body, and have no constitutional authority within the Anglican Communion except as individual leaders within their own churches. Nor does any of the Instruments of Communion have authority to determine doctrine or polity for… Read more »

jill novell
Guest
jill novell

Shameful.

Nicholas Henderson
Guest
Nicholas Henderson

It’s good to read that the primates are so supposedly ‘joyful’, because there isn’t much to laugh about in their communique if you’re American or the ‘wrong’ side of straight.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

So now, Justin Welby is attempting to have it both ways but simultaneously throwing LGBT people under the bus and then giving the world’s most insincere and disingenuous “apology”. When he says “For me it’s a constant source of deep sadness, the number of people who are persecuted for their sexuality”, why does no-one near him say “So why do you keep on doing it, then, Justin?” And when he says “I wanted to take this opportunity … to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, the church has caused” why did… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I think a lot of hot air is being produced at the moment and people were responding to snippets without having seen the full text. I personally don’t think the sanctions amount to much at all. Being dropped from a body that makes no major policy decisions anyway and only meets very infrequently is hardly the cat ‘o nine tails. Interestingly, the only punishment was meted out to a church that has a liturgy for same sex marriage. Churches who bless domestic partnerships were not included. That is astonishing and gives the CoE a huge amount of wriggle room in… Read more »

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

The acknowledgement of homophobia is itself framed in heterosexist terms. There is no structural redress of this. No sanctions. It is meaningless.

Marshall Scott
Guest

I do wonder how it was that what was actually an appendix came out as if it were (or were going to be) the communique. That, as much as anything, seems calculated to undermine the integrity of even a meeting of the primates, much less something like a Primates Meeting.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“This was a meeting about keeping the Communion together and it did that spectacularly well.”

Actually, Erika, the Archbishop of Uganda left on the second day. He is doubtless intent on building up GAFCON as an alternative structure.

Meanwhile, the majority of primates did not vote to expel TEC. And other provinces–Canada, Scotland, England–will soon take steps that the GAFCON provinces will consider anathema.

So the survival of a 38-province Communion is still an open question. I suspect that this meeting will have succeeded merely in postponing the inevitable.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation”

This would be breathtaking hypocrisy, but I don’t think it is. It’s even more worrying: I think ++Justin et al actually believe that their actions and statements (e.g. The Pastoral [sic] Guidance, Jeremy x 3, harassment of LGBT ordinands and clergy, refusal to bless civil gay weddings or civil partnerships etc. etc.) are not homophobic.

That the leader of my national church is this delusional worries me deeply.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

Erika, in many ways you are right – and when the dust settles, I expect the average C of E parishioner, if he/she is aware of all this at all, will be repelled, and ECUSA (and Canada) will continue strong in their prophetic leadership. If there is any “suffering” it will be as a witness to the love an in-gathering we experience in Jesus, and were told to expect. BUT: do not underestimate either the hurt that this has caused to LGBT people worldwide, who had hoped and prayed for better; or the fuel that this opprobrious decision will give… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Erika, I admire your attempt to see the good, but I’m not able to buy it. This level of shamelessness indicates a structure endemically rotten beyond saving, and I’m not “disappointed” that only those treating us as real people were mistreated, I’m horrified, both by the implied threat to Scotland and Canada and the *carte blanche* given to greater violence against GLBTI’s as Pilate washes his hands in meaningless platitudes. “Fool me once …”

Dominic Melville
Guest
Dominic Melville

I am disappointed by many things here, not least what for me feels like insufficient emphasis on our condemnation of legislative and violent homophobia. However, what I find hardest to accept is the notion that a member church should be excluded from (or recuse itself from) discussions about doctrine and polity for a fixed period. Either the members of TEC are members of the one, holy catholic and apostolic church or they are not. If this is a three year sanction against those with whom all are committed to walk together in grace, then they are part of the Church,… Read more »

Nicholas Henderson
Guest
Nicholas Henderson

If Foley Beach of the ANCA was given a voting paper to make a decision that involved the Episcopal Church, regardless of what he did or didn’t do with it, that is a scandal.

Feria
Guest
Feria

Jeremy and Erika have both mused about the possibility of seeking qualified legal advice on whether the sanctions are lawful and constitutional, and there’s something to be said for that. However, I’m of a rather devious mind, and it occurs to me that some “conservative” primates might be playing a bigger game, in which they try to provoke TEC into taking legal action, with the intention of declaring that initiating proceedings in a secular court is in itself a violation of doctrine and polity. In that case, their real target may not be TEC, but those of us whose churches… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Erika, I wouldn’t be so sanguine about the harm here. Some LGBT Anglicans are deeply, deeply hurt. In my younger and more vulnerable years, I would have been devastated. Being sanctioned for love when the human rights abusers are not sanctioned at all (glad it got a mention in the final communique, but geez!) is decidedly curious. Oh bother! Forget restrain, it isn’t curious, it is morally and spiritually abysmal. I’m taking a lot of comfort from +Michael. Glad someone is on it from a Jesus perspective. There’s been more than enough of the political machinations. As for Justin, he… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Jeremy, Uganda left stressing that he was leaving the meeting, not the Communion. Nathaniel, LGBT people in Africa consistently tell us that they need us to speak out loudly and clearly against their oppression and that they need the Archbishop of Canterbury to do so too. I hope no-one had expected that our current ABC would be doing that, nor that it would do it in the context of this particular meeting. I didn’t expect a communique that included any positive reference to lgbt people. The Primate Meeting just isn’t like that, nor is our own HoB. What we’ve got… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”

Even this “rejection of criminal sanctions” is framed in language no self-affirming LGBT person uses. “Same-sex attracted” is a *pathologizing* term (separating us out from the sexual *orientations* we all have). All the Primates can muster AT MOST, is “Don’t Jail Them, Cure Them!”

“Do not underestimate either the hurt that this has caused to LGBT people worldwide, who had hoped and prayed for better”: agreed, Nathaniel.

I love you, Erika, but in the USA we have a phrase for what you’ve just said here: “polishing a turd.”

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”

The implication seems to be that if anyone acts on such attractions, criminal sanctions are ok.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

JCF, I don’t know which of my 2 comments you were referring to. I hope my second one has explained my view more clearly. We are where we are. The Primate meeting is homophobic. It was never going to become lgbt affirming over night. People arrived wanting the Communion to split, wanting churches they disagree with to be punished. I hope no-one here imagined that a fully gay affirming statement was even remotely on the cards. That will be something to work towards for the future – certainly as far as the CoE is concerned. Of course lgbt people were… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

It’s time TEC stopped working with that turd, because it will never be else. We have been thrown out in the British fashion; it’s rude to say “get out” so we’re ignored until we get the hint. TEC does not have the strength to fight the whole AC unaided, and our allies are unable to aid us. Why fight? We’re unwanted, unneeded, and with completely different values. Should we become Ugly Americans and demand our value priorities become theirs?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Of course lgbt people were hurt, Cynthia. Did we expect anything else?”

Yes, Erika, I expected something else. Justin billed the meeting as an informal gathering to work on reconciliation and living with difference. What happened is a massive betrayal. +Michael’s video diplomatically said that he wasn’t expecting what happened.

We live with difference. No one in TEC is required to marry gay people. We have bishops and priests who never will.

The Anglican Covenant failed – central authority was voted down.

Yes, I expected something very different.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I didn’t expect better from Primates 2016, Erika, but I certainly hoped for better, and my low expectations do nothing to dim my disgust at what they’ve chosen to do. I too appreciate you trying to see the positive, but in doing so, we should never come to accept homophobia of whatever guise, and should never cease to be outraged by it. If we do, it becomes tolerable for many, which is no help to those for whom it’ll always be unbearable. I don’t think you do accept it, but it’s a fine line, and I know myself that constant… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia, there’s too much material around now and I cannot remember where I read it and who said it. And I may be getting confused, because I had initially also not expected anything tangible to come out of this meeting. But I seem to remember reading somewhere in an official TEC statement that something like this had, indeed, been expected. I must admit, I had personally not expected genuine sanctions – and they aren’t genuine sanctions, because the Primates have no authority to impose them, they will only happen if TEC agrees to them. But I had most certainly expected… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Jeremy, I think the lack of sanctions against Canada (which Rod pointed out) and Scotland were deliberate — a shot across the bow to deter them from moving any further. Here in Canada, I see the Primates’ actions as giving the fencesitters, those who are in favour of equal marriage but not willing to push for it, an excuse to hold to the status quo and scuttle any attempt to amend the marriage canon and General Synod this year. The risk is very real, because a good number of the bishops fall into that category, and of course they don’t… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I don’t accept homophobia and I don’t cease to be outraged by it. I am continuing to fight against it (and if you will permit me a plug, CA Bath and Wells meets at my house on Wednesday 20 January, all welcome). But I do find it helps to have a realistic assessment of where we are on order to develop the best strategy about how to move forward. This meeting saved the Communion for now. Other than that, it was appalling in every respect. I just happen not to expect anything other than appalling from our current AC… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

This conversation, too, shows the cultural disconnect: on one side, “Just calm down and it will blow over,” and on the other, “This is wrong to say to others, and we should do something.”

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“No lgbt person could have thought that this meeting would produce any genuine progress for the cause.” I think that American LGBT people (who are tuned in) took Justin at his word, that it was a meeting to learn to live with our differences. That sounded more reconciling than the punishments of the past. We weren’t expecting more of the same. Chalk it up to ridiculous American optimism, but we tend to be honest and direct and take others at their word. So this does come as a betrayal. We were hurt. To some extent the hurt is being moderated… Read more »