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Instruments lack backbone, Primates of Global South say

by Ed Beavan

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East meets South: members of the Chinese government welcome visiting Primates of the Global South at a Beijing hotel earlier this month

East meets South: members of the Chinese government welcome visiting Primates of the Global South at a Beijing hotel earlier this month

THE Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion have “become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the Communion together”, the Primates of the Global South have written, after their recent visit to China.

Issuing a communiqué after their trip, during which they met church leaders in a number of cities includ­ing Beijing and Shanghai, the Prim­ates wrote that it grieved them deeply to see many Anglican Churches in the West “yielding to secular pressures to allow unaccept­able practices” such as the ordina­tion of active gay and lesbian clerics.

The 11 Primates reiterated that they were “wholeheartedly com­mitted to the unity of the Anglican Communion”, but described the Instruments as dysfunctional.

In particular, they criticised the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin earlier this year.

They said that it was “regrettable that the Lambeth Conference 2008 was designed not to make any reso­lutions that would have helped re­solve the crisis facing the Communion.

“The Primates’ Meeting in Dub­lin 2011 was planned without prior consultation with the Primates in regard to the agenda,” and there was “no commitment to follow through recommendations of previous Primates’ Meetings”.

Commitments at the two pre­vious Lambeth Conferences to give Primates responsibility in doctrinal, moral, and pastoral matters seemed “to have been completely set aside”, they wrote.

They said that other bodies, such as the Anglican Consultative Coun­cil and the Anglican Communion Stand­ing Committee, and commis­sions such as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, “no longer reflect the common mind of the Churches of the Communion because many members from the Global South can no longer with good conscience attend these meetings, as issues aggravating and tearing the fabric of the Communion are being ignored”.

They concluded by writing that they had commended the Anglican Communion Covenant to their re­spective provinces for further study, and that “the Primates should be the proper moral and spiritual authority for the monitoring of the Covenant.”

The communiqué was signed by the Primates of South East Asia, Uganda, Jerusalem and the Middle East, West Africa, Burundi, Nigeria, Myanmar, the Southern Cone, Kenya, Rwanda, and Central Africa.

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