Primates not attending Dublin meeting have reiterated commitment to Communion

The Primates who have turned down the invitation to this week’s Primates’ Meeting because of developments in The Episcopal Church are still committed to the Anglican Communion.

In an interview Jan. 23 with BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme, Anglican Communion Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon told presenter William Crawley that at Communion meetings there are always a number of participants who cannot come for a variety of reasons including health or diary commitments.

Canon Kearon gave as an example of those who would likely leave their decision to attend until the last minute the Primates of Sudan and Australia whose countries are dealing with major issues including a referendum and flooding respectively.

He added that on this occasion some Primates had written to say they would not be attending the Dublin meeting because of the presence of the Primate of The Episcopal Church and recent developments in The Episcopal Church.

“About seven or possibly eight have written to me directly to say that’s the reason why they cannot come,” he said. “About two can’t come because of health reasons and there are a few we are not yet sure whether they are coming or not.

“Those Primates who said they’re not coming as part of an objection to the Episcopal Church and other developments have reiterated their commitment to the Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury in their writing to me.”

When asked about the agenda of the meeting, Canon Kearon explained that this was “in the hands of the Primates themselves.”

“They’ve been asked to examine the big issues facing the Communion and that in itself follows a request from a number of them after the last Primates’ Meeting that we actually devote a meeting [to] what the big issues are.

“I think there will be a variety of answers to that question: ‘What is the big issue facing the communion?’ Some will of course say it is the same sex issue…I think other people will  answer in terms of mission, the church’s response to relief and development issues; still others will talk about human rights being the issue facing the Communion and Church today.”

In response to a question about what would be the outcome of the meeting, Canon Kearon said that that was in the hands of the Primates. “It [the Primates’ Meeting] is not a decision-making body in that sense. It is a body which issues guidance and indicates direction. It has a lot of moral authority based on the fact that it is composed of Primates but it isn’t a body that votes on resolutions, it doesn’t have that kind of procedural or constitutional nature.”

The Primates’ Meeting was established in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan (101st Archbishop of Canterbury) as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” and has met regularly since. The next meeting is in Dublin, Ireland from 25-30 January, 2011.

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