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South Primates are wary of Welby

28 March 2013

THE Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda did not attend a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury last Friday, which was attended by other Primates from the Global South.

The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, and the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali, had attended the inauguration service on the previous day. But they left before the Friday meetings between Archbishop Welby and Global South Primates.

A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said that the Primates had "commitments" in their various provinces, and had to leave Canterbury soon after the service to catch flights. The other Primates "spoke on behalf of the absent Primates" at the meeting with Archbishop Welby, she said.

However, Dr Wabukala, who is chairman of the conservative Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Primates' Council, had a "very good private meeting" with Archbishop Welby before he left Canterbury.

In an interview last week ( Features, 22 March), Archbishop Welby said that he intended to adopt a "relationally based" approach to the FCA and the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). "We've got to find good ways of listening to what they have to say, and them listening to what others have to say."

The Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda signed a letter that was delivered to Archbishop Welby on the day of his inauguration. It was also signed by the Primates of Rwanda and of Sudan, and the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of America.

The letter said in part: "We are grateful for this opportunity to worship in Canterbury Cathedral and be reminded of our historic faith that is grounded in the revealed Word of God. We encourage you to stay true to the 'faith once delivered to the saints', and as you do we will stand with you for the sake of Christ. We do look forward to a future opportunity to meet and discuss how we can work together."

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, said in an interview last Friday with the Australian broadcaster SBS that Archbishop Welby would be "enormously welcomed" if he visited the Anglican Church of Australia.

"But he has no jurisdiction here. He is not a person who is going to lay down the law and say: 'We must believe this; we must believe that.' We will test him, as we do everyone in that position, in accordance with how we understand what the Bible teaches."

Dr Jensen said that he disagreed with Archbishop Welby's position on women bishops; "but it's not an issue over which we're going to go into a fight with each other." He said that he understood that Archbishop Welby took "what I regard as the biblical view" on sexuality.

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