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15 Archbishops skip Dublin primates meeting: The Church of England Newspaper Jan 28, 2011, p 7. January 26, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2011.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, Archbishop Joseph Kopapa of Papua New Guinea, Archbishop David Vunagi of Melanesia greeting Canon Kenneth Kearon outside the Emmaus Conference Centre in Swords, Ireland at the start of the Primates Meeting on Jan 25. Photo courtesy of the Church of Ireland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Only 23 of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces will be represented at this week’s Primates’ Meeting in Dublin.

Little is expected from the closed-doors January 25-31 meeting at the Emmaus Conference Centre outside Dublin. No agenda has been prepared in advance, and according to a press hand out from the Anglican Communion News Service the “agenda of the meeting will develop as the meeting progresses.”

ACC Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon said it was “obviously regrettable when a Primate is unable attend because it means that that particular perspective is not represented, but it is ultimately the decision of each individual Primate in consultation with their Province.”

He noted, however in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme on January 23 the Primates absent from Dublin had nonetheless “reiterated their commitment to the communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury in their writing to me.”

While the commitment to the Communion remains strong, there is less of a tie to the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England Newspaper has learned.

The tenor of conversation among the boycotting Primates centres round the realisation that Dr Williams is unable, and apparently unwilling, to resolve the Anglican crisis. Dr Williams’ successes in persuading conservatives to go along, will not be repeated this time due to their absence. The “rump” meeting in Dublin 2011 has already been dismissed as illegitimate by some of the boycotting Primates, who represent 40 of the Communion’s 55 million active Anglicans.

Past undertakings given at the 2005, 2007 and 2009 Primates’ Meeting have not been fulfilled one Primate noted. It was not just around issues of human sexuality that action did not follow upon words, but in resolutions ranging from the appointment of an envoy to Zimbabwe to promises to mediate the Brazilian split.

In a January 21 editorial published on the Global South (GS) Anglican website, a spokesman for the boycotting Primates noted the decision to stay home was “not a sudden or knee-jerk reaction.”

In the course of several conversations and in a group meeting at the All Africa Bishops Conference last August in Entebbe, the Global South Primates “indicated that it would be extremely difficult – and in fact, quite pointless – for them to be present at the planned Primates’ Meeting 2011.”

They told Dr Williams unless the American Church was prepared to honour its past undertakings and the decisions of the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings, they believed it was a waste of time and resources to attend.

The GS Primates also voiced frustration with the secrecy and lack of communications coming from London.

“What is most disturbing and difficult is that given the intractable miry situation the Communion is already in and being further driven into, there was hardly any timely and intentional prior consultation and collegial engagement of all concerned, or at least as many as reasonably possible, in preparing for the Meeting to ensure certain degree of significant and principally legitimate outcome to hold and move the Communion together.

“As it stands, the Meeting is almost pre-determined to end up as just another gathering that again cannot bring about effective ecclesial actions, despite the precious time, energy and monetary resources that Primates and Provinces have invested in attending the Meeting,” the GS Primates concluded.

“With the disappointing lack of serious transparent planning and leadership beforehand to prepare the Primates for a genuine meeting of minds and hearts to face the very real and obvious issues before us, it will be strenuous to expect any significant, meaningful, credible and constructive outcome of the Dublin Meeting,” they argued.

Those Primates in Dublin will find the 2011 meeting to be unlike the 2007 session in Dar es Salaam or the 2009 meeting in Alexandria. The Dublin Primates will be sequestered from the press and local observers. No outings to Dublin’s Anglican attractions or Irish cultural events are scheduled, while the traditional public worship services with local Anglicans are off this year’s agenda.

It is expected that time will be taken to orient newcomers to the Primates’ Meeting, as almost two-thirds of those present in Alexandria in 2009 will not be in Dublin — only 12 of the overseas Primates present in Dublin attended the Alexandria meeting.

According to ACNS, a variety of reasons were offered for the absences. The Archbishop of the Congo was unable to obtain a visa. The Primates of Mexico and Burma pled illness. Four Primates cited other pressing engagements: Kenya, North India, Sudan and Rwanda. The Archbishop of Tanzania offered “personal reasons” for his absence, while seven Primates absented themselves due to the invitation to Dublin of the Primates of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada — the Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Nigeria, Uganda, Southeast Asia, the Southern Cone, and West Africa.


1. Mark Preece - January 28, 2011

Your headline and first paragraph both refer to 15 primates missing the meeting, and your sixth refers without further explanation to the “boycotting primates.” There’s no way to avoid the inference that the missing 15 are the same as the boycotting primates. It’s not until the final paragraph that you allow that some of the missing 15 are not boycotting at all (“according the ACNS,” at least). Later in the sixth paragraph, you suggest that this might be considered a “rump” meeting, and surely it would be useful to us in judging the validity of this term to know how many are boycotting and how many are simply not present (as there are always some absences at Primates’ meetings, even in good times). I presume you didn’t intend to mislead in this way.

2. Malcolm French+ - January 28, 2011

George, the idea that the “decisions” of Primates Meetings have authority and are binding on the member churches of the Communion is nowt but dishonest spin. The Primates Meeting does not and has never had authority over te provinces.

Indeed, over the years several attempts have been made to establish a “higher authority” to which the provinces would be required to submit. This has been consistently (and providentially) rejected.

The former Chancellor of the Canadian church, former Queen’s Bench judge Ronald Stevenson, QC has provided a helpful list of all the curializing attempts and there rejection here: http://blog.noanglicancovenant.org/2011/01/resistance-to-central-authority.html

3. KieronDublin - February 1, 2011

Despite the Church of Ireland’s claim that no C of I events had been arranged around the primates’ meeting, the presiding bishop of Ecusa was invited to celebrate the Sung Eucharist at the Diocesan cathedal. See http://www.sbpost.ie/news/ireland/onethird-of-world-anglican-leaders-miss-dublin-meeting-54218.html

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