Primates’ Meeting – Briefing #5
[These briefings have been prepared on a daily basis by Anglican Communion Office staff with oversight from a variety of Primates representing different parts of the Communion]
On the final day of the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin, Primates discussed the content of final documents that had been prepared over the week. They began with reviewing the first draft of a working document on the proposed purpose and scope of the Primates’ Meeting. They then reviewed other documents—letters and statements—covering a range of international issues.
Documents agreed included a statement on climate change, one on the murder of Ugandan David Kato, an open letter to the President Robert Mugabe on the persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe, and a statement on the church’s response to violence against women and girls. These were made public at the afternoon’s press conference and via the Anglican Communion website.
Private letters that the Primates all agreed to send included one to Pakistan’s leaders on the blasphemy laws, a letter of support for Archbishop of Sudan the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul, a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the Bishop of Jerusalem the Rt Revd Suheil Dawani, a letter to the heads of the six-nation talks on the situation in Korea, and a letter of support to both Archbishop Mouneer Anis and Pope Shenouda III.
In the afternoon session, the Primates nominated and elected their five members and five alternate members for the Primates’ Standing Committee. When all the Primates of the Anglican Communion have been informed who the new members are, the names will be posted on the Anglican Communion website. Documents on the scope and purpose of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Primates’ Standing Committee were also agreed.
Immediately following the press conference, the Primates attended a final Eucharist, presided over by the Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams gave the homily. This service marked the end of the meeting.
Considering this gathering of Primates of the Anglican Communion was for the mutual support and encouragement of all who bothered to attend – and not for magisterial-type decision making – there seems to have been quite a bit of honest sharing and a marked determination to affirm the Church in troubled parts of the Communion – notably Egypt (Mouneer Anis’ territory), Sudan, Zimbabwe and Jerusalem – in each of which places there is disturbing civil unrest. No doubt their message to the Government of Uganda, expressing a common horror at the murder of David Kato, will have given a wake-up call to Uganda’s absent Archbishop, whose anti-gay rhetoric is stil a black mark on the Church there.
Overall, a more eirenic and business-like meeting than the last Primates’ Meeting, which ended in some confusion and a subsequent escalating culture of division in the Anglican Communion.
Let’s all hope that the Real Presence of Christ at the final Eucharist in Dublin (with each of the Primates taking part and recognising their common unity in Christ) will have renewed them as they return to their own provinces. They certainly will need our continuing prayers.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch