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DUBLIN: The Primates Meeting - A Review and Analysis

DUBLIN: The Primates Meeting - A Review and Analysis

By David W. Virtue in Dublin
February 2, 2011

They came, they talked, they issued statements on a variety of pressing social issues, they lit a candle and they looked at 15 empty chairs for six days. Then they went home. They did not issue a single communiqué.

By any yardstick, the most recent meeting of some 23 Anglican archbishops was a bust.

The empty chairs served as a daily reminder that a dozen of their brethren were not there because at least one of their number, a woman presiding bishop had defied the Windsor Report, Lambeth 1:10. The Covenant (with a disciplinary section) has, to date, only three signers and is still circling the Communion. Katharine Jefferts Schori consecrated an avowed lesbian to the episcopacy an act that has forever separated her from orthodox Anglicans.

Upon seeing those 15 empty chairs on a daily basis, the US Presiding Bishop commented, "Well, the reality is that conversations can be difficult with anyone. If we are not willing to continue in conversation there's not much opportunity for healing or reconciling. We need to come to the table. And I certainly hope and pray that my brothers (bishops) who stayed away can find it in their hearts at some point to come back to the table."

Of course they won't, as long as she is invited. That day is done. Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz brought an aboriginal talking stick, a symbol of the gift from First Nations peoples, to teach the archbishops how to converse with one another. That did not fly, either. The Archbishop of Burundi is not buying it nor is the Moderator of the Church of South India (United), the Most Rev. Vasantha Kumar, who told Dr. Williams, when he visited India last year, that he would never support the sexual innovations of The American Episcopal Church. In effect, Rowan Williams has lost most of Africa, Southeast Asia, India and Latin America. Only a fast numerically declining West stands with him. That group has about as much chance of holding the Anglican Communion together as Hosni Mubarak has of holding onto power in Egypt.

Of course, Jefferts Schori and Dr. Williams had plenty to say about a single Ugandan Anglican homosexual who was robbed and murdered by unknown persons. Mr. Kato's partner is oddly missing. Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi has been wisely silent until more is known. Millions of abortions in America and Europe did not warrant a mention. In fact, the slaughter of the unborn is supported by a number of leading American Episcopal clerics.

Undeterred, the primates of the Anglican Communion spent much of their Jan. 25-30 meeting developing a working document that outlines the nature and responsibility of their roles as church leaders and emphasizes their commitment to working together "in faith, hope, and love ... to build our communion and further the reign of God."

The angst of the empty chairs did concern the Archbishop of Canterbury. His fears surfaced at the one and only press conference. He indicated that he is planning a global tour to mend fences or, in his inimical and poetic way, find a synthesis between the thesis of sexual orthodoxy and the antithesis of homosexual practice.

Regrettably, he will not find it. The mention of two stopovers - one in Kenya and the other in Singapore -- will yield little in the way of acceptance in the less than fertile soil of African and Asian sodomy.

Williams will whisper in the ear of Archbishop Dr. Eliud Wabukala that he can absolve his non-appearance in Dublin by engaged listening, helped along by Phillip Groves's "Listening Process". At the same time, Bishop Bill Atwood, who oversees the province's North American-based congregations and is suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi, will be whispering in his other ear that he should not listen to the siren call of sodomite acceptance and should bid the ABC farewell.

If Dr. Williams hopes to move Singapore Archbishop John Chew, who was also not present in Dublin, but who lead the fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter (GSE4) in 2010 whose theme was: "The Gospel of Jesus Christ - Covenant for the People; Light for the Nations", he is deluding himself. This conference renewed their determination to assist each other in fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to do all that Christ has commanded. That was not the message in Dublin. In fact, there was no mention of the Great Commission in Dublin, just a litany of worldly and social concerns they could do little to resolve. Why, for example, should anyone listen to what Jefferts Schori has to say to the Israeli Government about the Palestinian situation when she can't even resolve the messy ecclesiastical divorce taking place in TEC.

Dr. Williams will not find "listening" to the whine of gays much of a concern to Archbishop John Chew who has missionary eyes on China. Chew has thrown in his lot with the Global South archbishops and he will not waver. A number of people thought he would, but VOL spoke with him in Singapore last year and found him firm in his commitment to the gospel and to bringing the gospel in its Anglican form to China. Mrs. Jefferts Schori's "gospel" will not play in the land of the Rising Dragon.

On any reading of Anglicanism, the communion is falling apart. When this reporter raised the issue of GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration, Williams' eyes told the story. He would not compromise his Covenant for such a Declaration. The Anglican Communion will rise and/or fall on his watch. He plans, by hook or by crook, to hold it together.

The advent of the Ordinariate now tearing at the cassocks of five bishops, and the departure of possibly 1000 congregations in the UK, failed to unnerve Dr. Williams. He opined that the numbers were greatly exaggerated. On this point, he may be right.

The realities of the loss of numerous traditionalists combined with the failure of his orthodox wing of primates to appear in Dublin only makes him more determined to stay in office and to somehow hold the Anglican Communion together. The bigger question is will the liberal English establishment continue to see it that way. For all his brilliance, he is discovering that the center is not holding as the fabric of the communion is showing more than one tear. Who knows if and when he might get summoned to the palace for tea and conversation with the Queen.

The appearance of three African archbishops -- the Archbishop of Southern Africa Thabo Makgoba and the Archbishop of Burundi, Bernard Ntahoturi - served to demonstrate the polarity of Africans on sexuality issues. Makgoba is a TEC clone and has been the recipient of millions of TEC dollars over the years. He is totally on board with TEC's pro-homosexual agenda. Ntahoturi, a personal friend of mine, is not. He told me he came to Dublin to represent Global South interests, but his appearance should not be construed as acquiescence to the pansexual agenda of TEC or that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A third African province - Central Africa - was represented by The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama. He was appointed Dean of the Province to replace the pro-gay Bishop Mwamba. Williams should not expect much leverage there, either. When a question by the Irish media was raised about the ordination of future gay bishops, Ntahoturi wisely demurred saying, "I think you had better ask that question of someone else other than in Africa. This is (not) an issue as far as the ministry is concerned I don't have any case of that in Africa." Indeed.

As much as Williams hoped the ordination of gay bishops would not be on the agenda of the archbishops, it was on the minds of the media, and when pressed, Williams testily replied, "it's not something we've been discussing this past few days, I really don't want to focus on it now."

The besetting sexual sins of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will not be swept under the rug, nor will they go away. Pansexuality is the elephant in the room as Church Times reporter Ed Beaven noted. It is on that sword that the Anglican Communion will fall. The slow disintegration of the Anglican Communion over the authority of Scripture is still the litmus test. The Global South and Western/North archbishops are at odds with Canterbury on interpretation, hermeneutics and much more.

VOL believes that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will increasingly coalesce around GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration as the Covenant flounders and fails to unite Anglicans. It might well be true that Rowan Williams' day is also done with a communion now in total shambles.


The following documents were released at the Primate's Meeting in Dublin

February 2, 2011

Click on the link at the "http" section:

On climate change: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_climatechange.pdf

Gender based violence against women: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_gbv.pdf

Letter to the President of Zimbabwe: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_zimbabwe.pdf

Letter to the Communion: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_gbv.pdf

Purpose and scope of Primate's meetings: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_scpurpose.pdf

The role of the Standing committee for the Primate's Meetings: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_sccommittee.pdf

Statement on the death of homosexual activist David Kato in Uganda: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/prim_davidkato.pdf


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