Welby writes to Primates as provinces continue to differ

10 February 2017

MARY FRANCES SCHJOENBERG/ENS

“Consequences”: Archbishop Welby with representatives from the US Episcopal Church, at ACC 2016 in Lusaka

“Consequences”: Archbishop Welby with representatives from the US Episcopal Church, at ACC 2016 in Lusaka

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has written to every Primate in the An­­glican Communion about the next Primates’ Meeting, to be held in Can­­ter­­bury in October.

It is now just over a year since the last Primates’ Meeting, in Can­ter­bury, which envisaged “con­sequences” for the Episcopal Church in the United States. A press release from the Anglican Com­munion Office this week stated that these consequences had meant that TEC representatives at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Coun­cil in Zambia last year had not taken part in “formal votes on issues of doc­trine and polity”.

On Wednesday, these represent­atives issued a statement disagreeing with this account of events.

“Each of us attended the entire ACC-16 meeting and voted on every resolution that came before the body, including a number that con­cerned the doctrine and polity of the Anglican Communion,” they wrote. “As the duly elected ACC members of a province of the Anglican Com­mun­ion, this was our responsibility and we fulfilled it.”

A statement from GAFCON, issued this week, described the ACO’s description of the voting as “sophistry”. “Whether a meeting uses a con­sensus model, or a voice vote, or paper ballots, or electronic ballots is of no relevance,” it said. “The Episcopal Church was not to take part in decision making on issues pertaining to polity or doc­trine. They did.”

The Archbishop’s letter contains his account of the House of Bishops’ report on the Shared Con­versations. A “key outcome”, he says, is the recommendation that the Church of England’s teaching on marriage should remain unchanged. He also refers to the proposal in the report that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples be clarified, and to the acknowledge­ment that the Church must repent of homophobic at­­titudes.

The letter invites the Primates to submit items for the agenda.

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