New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
Comment >

Fall-out from the Primates' Meeting

IT COULD have been much worse. Before absorbing the reactions, and especially the disappointment of non-conservatives, it is as well to acknowledge this. We had been assured repeatedly that all the Primates wished to retain the one, global, united Anglican Communion; but there was a strong possibility that some of their number would lose patience in the search for it post-New Hampshire, post-New Westminster. The conclusion of the meeting in Newry, however, was that they would continue to seek it together.

There was no formal break, though the declarations of impaired or broken communion made a year ago remain in force, as shown in the Primates' unwillingness to share the eucharist. Nor was there any mention in the final communiqué of severing the Americans or the Canadians from three of the four instruments of Anglican unity: the Lambeth Conference, the Primates' Meeting or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The implications of voluntary suspension from the fourth instrument, the Anglican Consultative Council, are far from clear. Viewed from one perspective, the penalty is slight: rather like being told that you are barred from deanery synod for a while. It is debatable whether one Anglican in 100 has heard of the ACC or knows what it does. From another perspective, however, to be excluded from the foremost representative council in the Communion is a serious hindrance. Consulting and advising is the level at which Anglicanism works. It is all there is.

The invitation to withdraw is, above all else, a foretaste of how the Communion might function if the Windsor report's recommendations for an Anglican Covenant are approved in the future. Conservatives are clear that these sanctions, though the mildest imaginable, are the start of a process that could leave parts of the Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the US out of the Communion. This was strengthened by Dr Williams's opinion, voiced in a radio interview, that repentance was needed to restore the two provinces to a full relationship.

The Americans and Canadians will have many questions: exactly what undertakings are expected of them in the next three years; whether their participation in other Communion activities might be affected; and, most important, what might happen at the end of those three years, especially in relation to Lambeth '08.

They will also want an assurance that the debate about homosexuality will be pursued in all provinces. If this exercise is simply about waiting for the North Americans to come back into line, it runs contrary to the letter of the Lambeth '98 commitment to listen to homosexuals in the Church. If all the provinces do this with an open mind, we cannot know the outcome. The Canadian and US Churches need not yet feel out in the cold.

Job of the week

Chaplain - Development

West Midlands

VACANCY ADVERTISEMENT CHAPLAIN - DEVELOPMENT 18.75 HOURS PER WEEK The Pastoral Care Team at The Myton Hospices is committed to the provision of spiritual care across the organisation and deliveri...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

The lighter side of fund-raising

The lighter side of fund-raising

Maggie Durran reviews entries to a competition to find the best fund-raising ideas  Read More

Question of the week
Would you like to see religious ads at the cinema?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Questions to weigh before bombing

Just-war theory can guide MPs in these decisions, says Paul Vallely  Subscribe to read more

Sat 28 Nov 15 @ 18:46
@julesanddog The advert can be seen at the bottom of that story.

Sat 28 Nov 15 @ 18:27
Surveys show that Islamic State terror repulses Muslims