Primates' Meeting starts on a low key

Archdeacon Paul Feheley, Principal Secretary to the Primate, is accompanying Archbishop Fred Hiltz to the Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, and will be filing reports as he is able. This is the first.

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT—The sun shone brilliantly in the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria on Sunday as the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered for the first time since 2007. This meeting, announced at the Lambeth Conference last summer, seems to lack both the tension and the focus that recent gatherings of global primates have had. It also seems to be attracting less attention, at least thus far.

The staff of the Anglican Communion Office here quite outnumbers the accredited press and the lobby groups from both the right and left are nowhere to be seen. Have we reached a point in the life of the Communion where weariness and frustration over sexuality issues has run its course? Have people simply stopped coming because they know that nothing will change and that opinions are locked in no matter or how many more studies are mandated?

The primates’ four-day agenda has a few critical issues before it including discussions on Zimbabwe, global warming and a Christian response to the current crisis in the world economy. Other issues such as Gaza and other wars, violence, HIV/AIDS, human rights violations in many of the Communion’s provinces — one Primate was denied a visa to travel here — have not made it to the agenda.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, our Primate, is attending his first Primates’ Meeting and will make a presentation on mission priorities in Canada on Monday. He intends to speak about the Five Marks of Mission and the Millennium Development Goals as well as about the question of cross-border interventions by some Primates.

In the past few Primates’ Meetings, the final communiqué has spoken to issues that have been routinely ignored by some of the Primates who signed onto the document. One hopes that whatever the final words of this meeting are, they will be honored. It is easy, perhaps too easy, to get entangled in the politics and lose the honesty that is needed. All Anglicans in the Communion have the right to look to these leaders for integrity and commitment to the words they affix their names to.

My hope is that the Primates will envision a world in need not of more rhetoric, nor more study, nor more delays but rather of action that the gospel may be proclaimed. My hope is that the Son of God will look down onto this country that once provided him a home as a refugee and say, “Well done good and faithful servants.”

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