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Primates’ Communiqué addresses cross-border interventions, ACNA

Primates’ Communiqué addresses cross-border interventions, ACNA

The Primates of the Anglican Communion closed their Canterbury meeting with a communiqué which can be read in full here.

Among the issues addressed were cross-boundary interventions and the status of ACNA.

It was confirmed that the Anglican Church of North America is not a Province of the Anglican Communion. We recognised that those in ACNA should be treated with love as fellow Christians.

We discussed difficulties arising from cross-border interventions, agreeing that the principles were clearly stated from the Council of Nicaea onwards and in the 1998 Lambeth Conference. We recognised that there were opportunities for joint initiatives and mission partnerships for the benefit of the Gospel where these are agreed between Provinces. However consent was critical to any inter-provincial collaboration and it was essential that courtesy and love should be extended to Provinces at all times.

Attempts to deal with breaches of consent and courtesy should be made in regional Primates’ Meetings and only referred to the Secretary General and the Archbishop of Canterbury as a last resort. We recognised that persistent and deliberate non-consensual cross-border activity breaks trust and weakens our communion.

We recognised that there is a need for a season of repentance and renewal including where interventions may have happened without prior permission having being sought.

Bishop Andy Lines of Gafcon-UK was quick to respond:

The Primates’ Communiqué appears to continue promoting the narrative of Anglicans ‘walking together’ despite the absence of four Provinces representing millions of Anglicans, and despite profound disagreement expressed within the meeting on understandings of what it means to be Christian, and how we know what is right and wrong.

The document does not criticise false teaching, but focuses on ‘border crossing’ as if it is more harmful. I take the long-established view of orthodox Anglicans across the world, that we cannot make an equivalence between Provinces who choose to abandon key aspects of biblical theology and ethics, tearing the fabric of the Communion and putting souls in danger, and those who respond to calls for help from faithful Anglicans within those Provinces.

Added: From Gafcon’s “initial response” Can Two Walk Together Unless They Are Agreed?

As we have consistently said, the current “Instruments of Unity” are broken, and as Archbishop Ntagali, Primate of Uganda, has said, “every attempt to repair the torn fabric and heal the betrayal has made the situation worse.”[1]  This has again proved true.

When the leaders of Gafcon and the Global South, representing the majority of the world’s Anglicans, met in Cairo last month it was their prayer that “the outcome of the upcoming [Primates] meeting would be decisive and lead to coherent and responsible action regarding the issues which continue to tear apart the fabric of the Communion, issues that have eternal consequences.”[2]  Judging by the Communique, their hopes for the meeting have been disappointed.

The Primates’ Meeting has been portrayed as “good disagreement” over issues of sexuality, and that the irreconcilable theological convictions underlying the different positions can be set aside for the sake of institutional unity. But this does not reflect the reality. We are not “walking together.”[3]

ACNA has not yet responded to the communiqué. The Anglican Communion News Service reported that an ACNA spokesperson was speaking on Gafcon’s behalf during the primates’ meeting.


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Prof Christopher Seitz

It isn’t just Gafcon provinces, but indeed the entirety of the GS, which is in communion with ACNA. I have never thought of it as a Province, and now the communique has clarified that. I’m not sure it matters very much so far as they and the GS are concerned.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Hm. I wouldn’t have thought a communique was written to dispute a number four in Lines’ (later) statement.

I suspect the live question is not the ebbing influence of ACNA (is it an influence on anything?) but the growing of the GS bloc’s cooperation. There used to be some distancing of the majority of the GS from Gafcon. That has stopped.

Prof Christopher Seitz

It sounds like there is a sense of having found the right way to 1) present an acceptable/anodyne form of discipline, (for TEC and now SEC) and 2) defend the traditional marriage understanding. This would explain the tone — in addition to there being a lot of new Primates and none of them distant from the mind of 2). The real battle line will end up running straight down the middle of the CofE. +Welby feels he is able to count on the present HOB, but facts on the ground will doubtless get made. His real challenge is inside his own church/province. I think he knows that. Primates Meetings will be the least of his problems.

Jim Naughton

Compare this communique to those of the other Primates Meetings in the last 14 years. The tone is quite different, as is the hierarchy of concerns. The days when those who support LGBT people and their life in the church attend these meetings wondering if they are going to be ejected or marginalized within the Communion seem to be passing. At least for the moment.

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