In a statement released on Wednesday, five African Primates, members of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, confirmed that they would not attend the two-yearly meeting. In addition, it is understood that the Primate of South-East Asia, Dr John Chew; the Primate in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Dr Mouneer Anis; and the Primate of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, will not go to Dublin.
Furthermore it is expected that two new Primates, Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone, and the Most Revd Onesphore Rwage, Primate of Rwanda, will also boycott the meeting.
In the statement, which came out of a meeting of the GAFCON Primates’ Council in Oxford in October, but was released only on Wednesday, five Primates — Dr Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Dr Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, the Most Revd Henry Orombi of Uganda, and Dr Eliud Wabukala of Kenya — say they “join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present”.
They acknowledge the Anglican Covenant is “well-intentioned” but say they “have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed”.
In response, Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said: “The decision whether to come remains a matter for the Primates.”
The Oxford statement also reveals that GAFCON plans to build partnerships with other denominations that “share their convictions”.
This statement, from the English ‘Church Times’, should not surprise anyone who has been keeping up with the G. S. refusal to sign up to the Anglican Covenant. However, far from fazing the Secretary of the A.C. Standing Committee, he says that it is ‘a matter for the Primates’. Rightly so. No-one can say they have been driven out of the Communion, when they themselves have set up a ‘Primates Meeting’ of their own – in the Middle East – from which they issued the high-sounding ‘Jerusalem Statement’, virtually proclaiming their own conservative version of Anglicanism – mostly peopled by conservatives from some African Provinces – like Uganda and Nigeria, some in Asia, and the tiny Province of Southern Cone – some of which Provinces have planted their own provincial faux-Anglican Churches in North America. One of the people who signed off from the Covenant with these Primates was none other than the Archbishop of Sydney – who is not a Primate, but rather a Metropolitan – whose metropolitan arch-diocese looks headed to secede from its parent Province of Australia – if Australia signs up to the Covenant.
The reason for turning down the Covenant – for the Prelates of the GAFCON – is that they feel the Covenant document is not tough enough on TEC and the A.C.of C., whereas the reason for the ‘NO COVENANT’ movement in more liberal Provinces, is because they do not want to be told by other Provinces (such as those in GAFCON) what they may or may not do to follow the call of the Holy Spirit to minister in their own social and cultural environment.
If GAFCON is out, and the NO COVENANT Provinces are out; there does not seem to be any further need for a Covenant – even though the Church of England General Synod has already decided to press it upon their diocesan synods to approve.
Fr. Ron Smith, Christchurch