Canterbury reports

IN A move described by Canon Sue Booys (Oxford), who chairs the Business Committee, as "a small but significant experiment" designed to provide "an opportunity at the beginning of Synod for members to hear from the Presidents about issues of concern", the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a presentation outlining his work since the previous Synod meeting. Canon Booys said that this was "a step towards finding a regular place where topical issues can be raised".

Archbishop Welby began by referring to recent "terrible atrocities" in Peshawar and Nairobi. He had been able "to get, fleetingly, to Nairobi for a condolence visit", and received "an emotional and warm welcome from Archbishop Wabukala". He had also offered to make a visit to Peshawar, but the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan "felt it would not be helpful" because of the security situation in the region.

"Many parts of the Anglican Communion suffer greatly, and the Synod will, I trust, acknowledge both the suffering and courage of Churches in places like Nigeria. The issue of how we support each other, and how we understand and confront violent attacks in the light and grace of Christ is one of the greatest of our age."

Turning to the recent World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, South Korea, he said that he had "believed the propaganda about the uselessness of such events", and had been surprised to be "confounded by the reality of a world-church gathering seeking to express love for Christ and for each other. . . The WCC has its issues of unity and coherence . . . but it holds together an extraordinary diversity, united in the main by love for Jesus Christ." He said that he would believe less propaganda in future.

There had been a change in the leadership of the C of E's ecumenical work in recent months, in an effort to reduce costs and avoid an overlap of responsibilities between Lambeth Palace and the Council for Christian Unity. The Bishop at Lambeth and the lead bishops for each "dialogue or conversation" were now "taking the weight".

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In "an ecumenical step of significance", the Archbishop announced that, from January, "a [Roman] Catholic order with an ecumenical and teaching vocation will be created, initially with four members at Lambeth."

Within the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Welby had begun a programme of "personal and private" visits to the 37 Primates. He had visited ten so far, and he aimed to visit the others within the next 12 months.

While in Nairobi, the Archbishop had been able to "benefit from meeting a number of Primates who had arrived" for the GAFCON conference. "There were naturally rather different views expressed, including about me, not invariably warm, but I was most glad to have had the opportunity to meet,  and the general response was very kind."

Turning to the political sphere, he joked that the Parliamentary Banking Standards Commission, on which he sits, was "intended to be all over by Christmas - last Christmas".

It was now in its final stages, and a major debate was due on "the more-than-1000 pages of reports and resulting legislation", he said. "It has been a good opportunity for the Church to contribute in an area where we are not always institutionally visible."

He would be "more than delighted when it is buried, ideally with a stake through its heart and garlic between its teeth".

The Archbishop also spoke of a new initiative during this group of sessions: continuous prayer in the chapel of Church House. "Prayer reminds us of the big picture - this is all about God - a reminder we sometimes need more than ever in the midst of our legislative processes."

He concluded his presentation with a period of silence, to remember "those suffering from persecution, violence, and natural disaster".

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