The Primates’ Meeting should remain a meeting

The Church of Ireland Gazette believes that the Primates Meeting should remain a place of consultative fellowship and stay away from a more formal Primates Council.


The editorial of February 13th notes how Archbishop Donald Coggan originally described the purpose of the gathering, noting that the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council should listen to local bishops, priests and laity in their work:

Now the 2009 Primates’ Meeting refers to its purpose as a gathering “for leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” as intended to mean that the primates are to act as “the channels through which the voice of the member Churches [are] heard, and real interchange of heart [can] take place”. The communiqué cites the address of Archbishop Donald Coggan to the Lambeth Conference of 1978 for these quotations, but this appears not entirely to do justice to what Archbishop Coggan said. He said that if Primates’ Meetings, as occasions for “for leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation”, were to be fruitful “those primates would have to come to such meetings well informed with a knowledge of the mind and will of their brothers whom they represent. Then they would be channels through which the voice of the member Churches would be heard, and real interchange of mind and will and heart could take place.” The emphasis here is clearly on that interchange of mind and will and heart – i.e. fellowship. Moreover, Archbishop Coggan also spoke of it as of the “ultimate importance” that the primates and the Anglican Consultative Council “should be kept in the closest possible liaison”, thus involving bishops, priests and laity in deliberations that would assist towards “maturity in the exercise of authority”.

Added to what at least appears to be a communiqué ‘spin’ on Archbishop Coggan’s 1978 address, in a press briefing last week the Archbishop of Canterbury referred to a “need for a shift of focus in the life of the Communion from autonomy of provinces with communion added on, to communion as the primary reality with autonomy and accountability understood within that framework”. Precisely what that implies remains somewhat mysterious, but one can see the direction in which such a comment points. There is a slippery slope here, and it is important that the Primates’ Meeting should remain essentially for the purposes of consultative fellowship. The Anglican Communion should avoid a formal College of Primates.

Read the rest here.

H/T to Thinking Anglicans.

Category : The Lead

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2 Comments
  1. …last week the Archbishop of Canterbury referred to a “need for a shift of focus in the life of the Communion from autonomy of provinces with communion added on, to communion as the primary reality with autonomy and accountability understood within that framework”.

    No, no, no! That’s far more than “a slippery slope”! I’m sorry, Andrew, but that doesn’t seem mysterious at all. It’s a hard push by the ABC toward a world-wide Anglican Church, which he, too often, speaks of as if it’s already a fait accompli.

    Sorry if I come across as a tad hysterical (You know women!), but that idea is anathema to me.

    June Butler

  2. tgflux

    I really resent the ABC’s implication, that if the “primary reality” of the AC is “autonomy of provinces”, that necessarily means that “communion [is] added on.”

    I see communion in the AC as living&growing through provincial autonomy, NOT in spite of it!

    [And what Mimi said]

    JC Fisher

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