Ndungane: beware the Primates

by
23 May 2007

by Rachel Harden

THE Primates’ Meeting of the Anglican Communion has been given too much power, the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, believes.

Speaking to his diocese earlier this month, Archbishop Ndungane said that the touchstone of Anglicanism had always been the involvement of laypeople in the governing of the Church. For the Communion, this had been in the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

“Yet it seems that centre stage is increasingly being given to the Primates — and I very much regret this.” In addition, the Primates last year voted themselves on to the ACC.

The Archbishop said that the first Primates’ Meeting called by Archbishop Coggan had had the “underlying acknowledgement that they never had more than a consultative and advisory authority”.

The ACC and the Primates’ Meeting, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference, were instruments of unity for the Communion he said; but he questioned how effective they had been in dealing with divisive issues.

In particular, he pointed to the 1998 Lambeth Conference and the Resolution 1.10 on homosexuality. He criticised the resolution for not commending to the Conference the agreed sub-section report on homosexuality. It was as if the 800 bishop-hours spent on the sub-section report had never happened.

He went on: “Whatever the merits of the various positions on human sexuality, my greatest sadness is that we have allowed ourselves, within the Primates’ Meeting in particular, to lose sight of what it means to live in communion.”

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