ANOTHER Lambeth Conference is "certainly achievable", despite
the fact that divisions in the Anglican Communion "may be too much
to manage", the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday.
In a presidential address to the General Synod, meeting in
Church House, Westminster, the Archbishop delivered a strong
defence of the Communion, seeking to correct reports it had all but
ceased to exist. The speech won loud, sustained applause.
His visits to 36 of its Primates over the course of 18 months
had shown him that it was "flourishing". He predicted, however,
that, in a post-colonial world in which most of its members lived
in the Global South, the future Communion was likely to look "very
different from the past".
A meeting of the Primates would take place if there was a
"majority view" among them that it would be a "good thing", he
said. During a later press conference he declined to say how many
of those he had met to date were in favour of such a move.
The agenda would "not be set centrally, but from around the
Primates of the Communion"; but it would "ideally" include a
discussion on whether or not to hold another Lambeth
A conference was, he said, "certainly achievable, but the
decision is better made together, than in haste to meet an
artificial deadline of a year ending in 8. . . We have to be sure
that it is worth while. It will not be imposed, but part of a
Asked about whether the Archbishop of Canterbury was likely to
remain the head of the Communion, he said that he was "not
overwhelmed by the need to remain having the principal role in the
Communion", but he had been "surprised" by the strength of
attachment to Canterbury evident in his visits to the
"The idea of Canterbury matters," he said. "It is something that
has come across very strongly. That is one of the things I have
learned. . . Sometimes it has been put very forcefully." On one
occasion he had been given "a really pretty strong telling off for
saying anything else".
The last Lambeth Conference was held in Canterbury in 2008. One
month before, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was
held in Jerusalem, and a number of Evangelical bishops boycotted
Lambeth over disagreements about sexuality. A second GAFCON meeting
was held in Nairobi last year (
News, 25 October, 2013).
There were, the Archbishop said, "enormous problems" in the
Communion, including "deep divisions" about sexuality. In many
parts, there was "a belief that opponents are either faithless to
the tradition, or, by contrast, that they are cruel, judgemental,
inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that,
without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid
some serious fractures."
He repeated his warning that words spoken in the UK were heard
"within minutes" around the world, and "analysed half to death" (
News, 11 April). In the pursuit of the prize of unity,
Anglicans "cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with
those whose views are also ours".
Speaking to the press after his address, the Archbishop said
that, in most countries, sexuality was "not the principle
consideration" but "it seems to matter". It varied, he said. In
Melanesia, climate change was a primary consideration; in the DRC
and South Sudan peace was the priority. Persecution, poverty, and
the "Black Death" of Ebola were some of the threats facing the