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Canadian Primate pushes for expansive agenda for upcoming Primates meeting

Canadian Primate pushes for expansive agenda for upcoming Primates meeting

As reported in the Anglican Journal, the Anglican Church of Canada’s Archbishop Fred Hiltz has urged Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to form an agenda for the upcoming Primates meeting in London that “reflects not only concerns within the domestic life of the church, but around the urgent issues within our common humanity.”

While Hiltz acknowledged that issues around same-sex marriages will be an important topic of conversation at the meeting, he said he has encouraged Welby to make sure that the meeting’s agenda tackles important issues affecting the church and the world.

Earlier, Hiltz identified poverty, the global refugee crisis and climate change as key concerns for churches.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Hiltz said he was pleased with how receptive Welby was to this message. “He’s very open to that, and he said that a lot of the primates are calling for an agenda that reflects both.”

Hiltz also said that after his meeting with Welby, he came away “encouraged by his [Welby’s] clarity in terms of what the Primates’ Meeting is and what it’s not.”

The Primates’ Meeting “is not a decision-making body—it’s a body for people that come together to pray and discuss and discern and offer some guidance. We don’t make resolutions,” Hiltz said.

Photo: André Forget from Anglican Journal

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Paul Woodrum

Re +Hiltz, issues around gay marriage are important but also back-burner compared to the really big issues. This old refrain is getting tiresome.

Rod Gillis

Re the comment by Canadian Primate Archbishop Hiltz, “We’re servants of the churches in which we minister…we are called to be servants, not rulers.”

I understand what Archbishop Hiltz is trying to say, and to model but, notwithstanding, prelates who style themselves as “servants” may still function as as a hierarchy. The classic example is the motto of the papacy “servus servorum Dei” or servant of the servants of God, complete with universal jurisdiction, of course.

No matter what efforts are made to broaden the agenda of the Primates’ meeting in January, the issue of sexuality and Communion hierarchical politics is front and center. The Canadian Church and TEC are being held hostage to the regressive social policies being championed by some of The Primates. No doubt said Primates would assent to the rhetoric of servant-hood while making demands of Provinces not their own.

The Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, is right on when he says that Archbishop Welby might consider an apology to Canada and the U.S. for inviting the ACNA bishop to the January meeting. Dean Percy’s essay is available via this link and is in the public domain.

Jeremy Bates

Well, one question is whether it will even progress beyond the “gathering” stage. Methinks that some Primates will seek to impose conditions on their attendance at any “meeting” per se. Others will resist those conditions. Therefore it could become a gathering-about-a-meeting-that-doesn’t-happen.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Your observation is right on target. Though we may view it from different angles.

What, e.g., if the majority of the Communion decides it wishes to abide by recent communion-wide views regarding the Primates; and another bloc prefers to operate as independent national churches in a league of some kind?

Then the question would be whether the ABC wants to concede this two different conceptions, and whether as well he wants to somehow ‘preside’ over one or the other or both (if the second conception would wish to retain this idea of ‘presidency’ for some reason).

So we will be watching a dynamic very hard to predict, in terms of outcome.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Just as a simple matter of historical record, where is the evangelical wing of TEC on par with the CofE?

Where are its numerous theological schools, major parishes, leading scholars?

I would have thought the statement that the evangelical wing of PECUSA had vanished was uncontroversial. TEC is now a 500K ASA liberal American denomination, with a few outlier Bishops/dioceses.

Geoff McLarney

The (conservative) Evangelical wing of the Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Church of Canada) is far from being as moribund as ACNA propaganda would have one believe. The rationale for their existence depends on the notion that the peddle a version of Anglican Christianity which has been shoved aside and anathematized by the “liberal” establishment of 815. The challenge to this vision is the existence of numerous parishes in both ECUSA and the ACoC who hew to the same doctrinal emphases as their counterparts in ACNA.

Jeremy Bates

“Whatever pressures it will face, it has faced before.”

The CofE has not faced before the pressure of the Archbishop of Canterbury being effectively dethroned as primus inter pares. It is that prospect that is new and that is giving the CofE fits–as some seek to avert it, and others wonder whether the Archbishop’s Communion role is more trouble than it’s worth.

Prof Christopher Seitz

The Church of England has been able to maintain diversity in a way that TEC hasn’t, with a robust evangelical presence and also progressives of various stripe. Whatever pressures it will face, it has faced before.

And whatever ‘desperation’ the ABC may experience, is already a reality on the ground and he knows it.

If he wanted to avoid a collision he would not have organized the meeting as he has done. There will be a collision. It is overdue, and he knows it.

Jeremy Bates

The Archbishop of Canterbury should be desperate to avoid the majority of the Communion dictating anything to anyone. I think he knows (though he does not say) that this will leave the Church of England in an impossible position.

Prof Christopher Seitz

I am dubious of any ‘law’ versus ‘colleague’ broad brush, and it would depend where in the Global South. The Bishops I know in Tanzania, e.g., are very hands on.

This will be a meeting we will not know very much about until it takes place. Indeed, the dynamic of having a threshold gathering on Day One and then a Meeting proper pretty much assures this.

Ann Fontaine

Always good when primates hold up the “not a decision making body” for the Primates to remember. For some provinces of the church the primate’s word is law – but for many they are colleagues in ministry with laity and clergy

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