Saturday, 3 July 2004

counting primates or provinces

A rather disturbing letter from a bishop in Melanesia has come to light. You can read it here.

I know as a matter of fact (I saw the letter) that the covering letter for the communique from eight “global south Anglican primates” meeting held in Singapore a month and a half or so (in Singapore), sent out to other global south Anglican primates for endorsement, went something like this: “Here is our communique, if we do not hear from you otherwise by such-and-such a date, we will deem you to agree with the communique.” It was this communique that was then issued sometime later with “the approval of 22 global south Anglican primates”.

Bishop Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita
Church of the Province of Melanesia

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2004 at 5:59 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

This is often used in governmental circles to get a communique out quickly when everyone agrees in principle. In the present instance there has been plenty of time to issue a statement of clarification or denial, as ECUSA has often done with Lambeth communiques.

Posted by: HighChurchman at July 5, 2004 04:49 PM

The letter (sent by a steering committee of sorts among these Primates) asked those Primates who had endorsed the original document either at last year’s meeting in Nairobi —- or in the following weeks —- if they had any objections to proposed changes/editing to the letter. If the Primate had no objections, it would be assumed he was in agreement with the editorial changes.

This was not a case of Primate X signing a document on behalf of Y & Z, and then asking them after the fact if it was OK; but of changes made to a letter already endorsed by Primates Y & Z.

Posted by: George Conger at July 8, 2004 05:40 PM

The suggestion of Fr. Conger that the draft text of the most recent communiqué from the “Southern Primates” went out only to those already in the loop (that is, those who previously signed similar communiqués) is simply not the case. The Archbishop of Melanesia, for example, refused to sign the previous communiqués, despite much pressure. Yet he received the covering letter that I mentioned, that if he did not respond by such-and-such a date, he would be deemed to support the communiqué. The fact of the matter is that there is not unanimity on this issue amongst southern Primates – there is the more extreme view represented by the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda, Southeast Asia, the West Indies, etc., but there are other southern Primates and Provinces who are much more in the middle (via media!) on this issue – they may not be terribly happy with what happened in New Hampshire, for example, but they do not think the matter is worth breaking communion with the Episcopal Church over. My impression is that the more conservative group is trying to bring the latter group “into the fold” by hook or by crook; this attempt was resented at the Primates’ meeting last year and continues to be resented. That is why we will not see the signatures of 22 southern Primates on the communiqué.

The Rt. Rev’d Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita
Church of the Province of Melanesia

Posted by: Bishop Terry Brown at July 11, 2004 07:47 AM