Skip to comments.Behind the scenes at the Primates’ Meeting
Posted on 03/03/2005 3:41:53 PM PST by sionnsar
Main Entry: pri'mate
Pronunciation: *pr*-*m*t or esp for 1 -m*t
Etymology: Middle English primat, from Old French, from Medieval Latin primat-, primas archbishop, from Latin, leader, from primus
Date: 13th century
1 often capitalized : a bishop who has precedence in a province, group of provinces, or a nation
2 archaic : one first in authority or rank : LEADER
3 [New Latin Primates, from Latin, plural of primat-, primas] : any of an order (Primates) of mammals comprising humans, apes, monkeys, and related forms (as lemurs and tarsiers)
-pri'mate-ship \-*ship\ noun
--pri-ma'tial \pr*-*m*-sh*l\ adjective
[The following is by far the most detailed report I've yet come across. Note that next Lambeth, neither Griswold nor Akinola will be there. --sionnsar]
By playing the honest broker and allowing grievances to be aired fully and frankly, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, prevented the collapse of the Anglican Communion last week.
Though the official communiqué stated that relations among the Primates during the Feb 21-25 meeting were convivial, characterised by generosity of spirit, and a readiness to respect one anothers integrity, with Christian charity and abundant goodwill, tempers and voices were raised behind Dromantines walls, testing the Archbishop of Canterburys diplomatic skills.
Yet by the weeks end all 35 Primates present would endorse the communiqué and only Presiding Bishop Frank T Griswold would leave the meeting early decamping on Friday afternoon to speak with media.
Speaking to 10 Primates over the course of the meeting, The Church of England Newspaper learned that Primates from both sides of the debate credited Dr Williams with resuscitating the meeting, keeping it alive by seeking not a quick consensus when conflicts arose but allowing the Primates space to voice to their differences.
I was relieved and impressed by the way in which we were prepared to be honest with one another, to face up to our difficulties, and to agree to create a space, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies stated.
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda concurred saying: There was a lot of freedom and also much willingness to come together to tackle the issues. He thanked God for Archbishop Rowan, because I think his leadership for the week was very important.
Expectations were low as some of us [had] fears that it might have been the last Primates Meeting, Archbishop Gomez stated. Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa noted: At the beginning of the meeting I was dismayed to have the impression that many colleagues had come with their minds made up. Positions were entrenched and irreconcilable.
In the months following the consecration the Bishop of New Hampshire, 22 Provinces broke with the Episcopal Church. While the presenting issue was V Gene Robinsons fitness for the episcopacy, for many Primates the crux was whether Scripture was trustworthy and true. If it was true, then the normalisation of homosexuality violated both the word and the spirit of Scripture.
Meeting in Nairobi on Jan 27-28, 16 Primates called for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to be disciplined. Failing any substantial change of direction within the next three months the global south primates and the others who share our convictions would confirm that they have chosen to walk alone and follow another religion.
For leaders of the Episcopal Church, the consecration of V Gene Robinson was equally a matter of faith faith that God was working in new ways, or a leading of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Griswold explained on Jan 14.
Bishop Griswold telegraphed to the Primates he would not be bullied in a Feb 20 sermon delivered at St Annes Cathedral in Belfast extolling white martyrdom. He argued Christians must be willing to take risks and push off into the unknown in obedience to God.
Dromantine will be the last Primates Meeting for Bishop Griswold and the American Churchs principle bête noir, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. Archbishop Akinola, retires at years end and Bishop Griswolds successor, to be elected in 2006, will represent the American Church at the next Primates Meeting in 2007.
With both sides equally determined, and certain of the rightness of their position, the first casualty of the meeting became the celebration of corporate Eucharist.
Archbishop Akinola wrote to Dr Williams on behalf of the global south coalition stating they would not share altar fellowship with Bishop Griswold. Dr Williams suggested a pastoral Eucharist, and then proposed a priest be brought in to celebrate Communion.
Archbishop Akinola responded it was not the worthiness of the minister that prompted their objections, but their belief that unity of doctrine preceded unity of worship. It was not a question of receiving from Bishop Griswold, but with Bishop Griswold.
Dr Williams relented and it was agreed on the Monday that the Rev T Shane Forster, chaplain to Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland, would celebrate the daily noonday Eucharist for those whose personal discipline required it; formally recognising the state of broken Eucharistic communion between the global south primates and Bishop Griswold.
Other Primates exercised their prayer life in different ways. Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, along with a small number of Primates, fasted for the first four days of the meeting, while others met in informal prayer groups each day.
Disagreements over the agenda and use of the Primates time were raised on Sunday night and Monday morning. The ACC staff-designed agenda, which scheduled 22 discrete activities for the Primates: including Bible studies, small group sessions, discussion of social issues such as HIV/Aids, Theological Education, Development, and the Tsunami elicited objections from those concerned that the Windsor Report discussions would be sidetracked by these issues.
Archbishop Akinola asked Dr Williams to recast the agenda round the Windsor Report debate. When Dr Williams demurred, citing the work the staff had put into the design of the programme, Archbishop Akinola responded that it was the first duty of Christians to resolve their differences with one another. Dr Williams conceded the point and put the Windsor Report at the top of the agenda.
Working from Dromantines conference room, the Primates sat at five round tables facing a podium and head table where Archbishop Williams, ACC Secretary General Kenneth Kearon and a secretary were seated. Three translators: French, Japanese and Korean, sat along the north wall.
While the American, Canadian, Irish, Sudanese and English Primates were allowed to bring staffers to Dromantine, no staff were allowed to attend the sessions, nor were staff permitted to dine with the Primates, who shared their meals with their wives meals described by on staffer as high quality school dinners with a surfeit of potatoes and an especially delectable ham and chicken pie. A request at the start of the meeting by Archbishop Gregory Venables to bring an aide staying at a hotel in Newry inside Dromantine was vetoed by Canon Kearon.
While security at previous Primates Meetings had been tight, in 2002 armed guards patrolled the roads into the Kanuga Conference Center in the United States, three swans, two Irish lads and a goat protected Dromantine. A Georgian country house on 300 acres of parkland that had been converted into a Roman Catholic retreat center, Dromantine at times resembled a PG Woodhouse farce rather than the epicenter of Anglicanism.
Conservative American and British activists, and the press corps, quickly found that Dromantines security guards were not a formidable obstacle to gaining access to the Primates, and would kindly fetch ACC staffers or pass notes to Primates if asked. Dromantines fauna provided a greater hazard with a correspondent of this paper savaged by a swan while photographing the buildings, and assaulted by a goat, disturbed in his revelries. Snow on Monday and the manuring of fields through the rest of the week kept visitors on foot at bay.
Car traffic into Dromantine, however was busy throughout the week as conservative activists would take primates off-campus from the centre to dine and strategise.
Bible studies directed by Dr Williams on the Lenten theme of the Three Temptations of Christ opened the Monday and Tuesday sessions and the Primates reviewed the work of the Lambeth Commission on Communion chaired by Archbishop Eames, and received a summary of the 322 responses collected by the Windsor Report reception committee, led by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Bruce Cameron who stepped on Feb 12 in for ailing Hong Kong Archbishop Peter Kwong.
On Monday Archbishop Williams appointed a communiqué team to prepare a final statement for the Primates: Archbishop Peter Carnley of Australia (chairman) Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania and Bishop Michael Baroi of Bangladesh and supported by ACC Deputy Secretary General Canon Gregory Cameron.
Archbishop Peter Carnley told The Church of England Newspaper the drafting process was uncomplicated. Gregory Cameron, our secretary, was very good. He picked up in the group discussions, picked up what people were saying and puts them on paper, very good. And he gave me a draft and we scribbled all over it, and I came back and I said we should go with this and that was that.
In their first public appearance during the meeting, the Primates travelled to Armagh for a service of Evensong with the Bishops of the Church of Ireland, the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland, and government ministers. Archbishop Williams called for peace between warring factions, preaching from Exodus 19. Dr Williams developed the theme you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and stressed the need for friendship and godly love among Christian brothers.
When the global south Primates returned to business they found the momentum they had been building begin to falter.
Presiding Bishop Griswold and Canadian Primate Archbishop Andrew Hutchison spoke plainly and firmly to the Primates on Wednesday about the innovations in their Churches over the normalisation of homosexuality, recounting the canonical and democratic processes that brought about these changes.
Primates from the global south were unmoved by these arguments and not persuaded that doctrine was democratically determined.
At the dinner break, the Communion was at an impasse, as both sides would not relent upon their principles, nor accommodate the others wishes.
On Wednesday evening, Archbishop Williams brokered a deal. The consensus of the Primates was that the American and Canadian Churches would be asked to withdraw from the affairs of the Communion for a season to either reform or explain.
One Primate told us that night that though the details had not been finalised and Bishop Griswold was mulling over the proposals, the meeting was essentially over.
At an informal press luncheon the next day, while not commenting upon the work of the Primates, Lambeth Palace press spokesman, the Rev Jonathan Jennings, noted the Primates had reached a point where they were able to devote Thursday to social issues such as HIV/Aids and Theological Education. Asked if it were all over, he responded that the Primates were still working on the principles.
While the Primates discussed social and education issues such as the Millennium Development Goals on Thursday, the five-man communiqué team worked out the details of the communiqué memorialising the agreement with Canon John Rees, Dr Williamss canon lawyer and legal advisor to the Lambeth Commission on Communion, joining the proceedings at Dromantine.
Matters took a quick turn when at 2pm when an independent journalist announced that he was getting ready to break the story of the agreement over the internet. The Primate of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Gregory Venables of Argentina, telephoned the journalist asking him not to proceed as the details had not been completed nor signed.
Though delayed, an incomplete story announcing the deal broke at approximately 4.30pm causing anger among the global south primates who were fearful that publication of the proposal would wreck negotiations.
As problems unfolded over the leak, Bishop Griswold became perturbed after witnessing the departure of a number of global south primates with their American supporters to dine off-campus.
Bishop Griswold spoke with Dr Williams, who then dressed down the Primates upon their return for sneaking away. In rebuking the Primates, Archbishop Williams committed his first gaffe of the meeting, as his infelicitous tone offended the African leaders.
In the midst of the turmoil over absent primates, exaggerated news reports, and bruised egos, the Primates voted to junk the evenings agenda and finish the communiqué.
Sources at Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Consultative Council told us the next day that the determination to finish the report and regain control of the agenda from the press unified the Primates as nothing else had over the week.
The drafting committee presented its work to the Primates and after only a few readings the communiqué was adopted breaking with past practice of arguing over each jot and tittle. At 10.22pm the communiqué was released to the press.
The expression of repentance from the Episcopal Church found in earlier drafts did not materialise due, in part, to the rush to finish. Archbishop Peter Carnley explained: At the beginning of our meeting we did talk about an expression of regret, however I think we lost sight of that particular issue in the course of the meeting.
The endorsement of the communiqué, however, did not return harmony to the Primates. After the deal was done, Archbishop Williams announced he was going to lead the noonday Eucharist on Friday and invited all the Primates to attend as a gesture of unity. The global south primates declined.
"Archbishop Akinola responded it was not the worthiness of the minister that prompted their objections, but their belief that unity of doctrine preceded unity of worship. It was not a question of receiving from Bishop Griswold, but with Bishop Griswold."
Very canonical, very Orthodox of the Archbishop.
note the use of the verb "resuscitate."....Hardly an optimistic choice, eh?
The more I read, the more I admire the Primates of the Global South.
Well, it may be appropriate given that the meeting was considered DOA by a number of participants even before it began.
I don't want to pin too much on one person, but I wonder if (or how much) things might change with Akinola gone.
" I don't want to pin too much on one person, but I wonder if (or how much) things might change with Akinola gone."
Consider the national church and culture which created an +Akinola. I suspect there is reason for hope.
Refusing Communion with Griswold was a seminal development. Took a lot of courage and character. And should be used as a tool consistently wherever FG goes, inc. HOB March
Speculate on next PB candidates: I have heard Curry of NC, and Bruno. Obviously it will be someone very liberal.
Pardon while I rant!
I thought I was home free. Our Suffragan Bishop was scheduled to come visit this Sunday. He and the other two Bishops attended and have glorified Vicki Gene's ordination. So, I thought I was OK to just go to the chapel service we have for a private boy's school at 9:15 so I wouldn't have to serve with this meretricious ass. I serve as Head Acolyte, actually I am more of an aco-heavy, with three of the students from the school, and sometimes I preach.
Now I learn that the crud is coming to the 9:15 service!
Guess everybody is going to be in shock when I refuse communion from him.
Prayers would be appreciated that I can refrain from slapping him.
P.S. Does anyone know how to recall/impeach/defrock bishops? Can it be done? If it can't be done can a petition be drawn up to the convention to add an ammendment to the church by-laws for it?
Sorry, but I still see this meeting as having been, "Come back in a few years, and if people are still angry, maybe we will slap you on the wrist."
* ECUSA remains official body of the Anglican Church in America.
* While the Southern primates refused to share communion with Griswold, no relief was offered for the American parishes over whom Griswold and his lackeys preside.
* Robinson is still in there, and people are still being granted permission to desecrate the sacrament of marriage in Canada.
* Not even so much of a threat has been made about what failure to repent will cause.
Seriously, is there any way the primates' meeting could have gone worse, sort of the unimaginable (like Anikola deciding that he, too, should endorse homosexuality)?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It's not easy. If you look at Article 9 of ECUSA's constitution (I just googled for it):
The General Convention may, by Canon, establish a Court for the trial of Bishops, which shall be composed of Bishops only.
Presbyters and Deacons canonically resident in a Diocese shall be tried by a Court instituted by the Convention thereof; Presbyters and Deacons canonically resident in a Missionary Diocese shall be tried according to Canons adopted by the Bishop and Convocation thereof, with the approval of the House of Bishops; Provided, that the General Convention in each case may prescribe by Canon for a change of venue.
The General Convention, in like manner, may establish or may provide for the establishment of Courts of Review of the determination of diocesan or other trial Courts.
The Court for the review of the determination of the trial Court, on the trial of a Bishop, shall be composed of Bishops only.
The General Convention, in like manner, may establish an ultimate Court of Appeal, solely for the review of the determination of any Court of Review on questions of Doctrine, Faith, and Worship.
None but a Bishop shall pronounce sentence of suspension, or removal, or deposition from the Ministry, on any Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon; and none by a Bishop shall admonish any Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon.
A sentence of suspension shall specify on what terms or conditions and at what time the suspension shall cease. A sentence of suspension may be remitted in such manner as may be provided by Canon.
Curry hasn't shown up on my radar, though I know a little about about Bruno. Ugh.
Why would Bp. Griswold not be at the next Lambeth? Is he going to retire as a Bishop once his term as PB is done?
Thanks to all of you that prayed for me.
Just got a phone call - the bishop is sick and will not be at the service on Sunday!
It seems rumors of Akinola's impending departure are in error. Apparently he's around until 2009.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.