Thursday, February 24, 2005

Primate's Communique

From the ENS:
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Primates' Meeting communiqué
The Primates’ Meeting, February 2005
1. As Primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches,
we gathered at the Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre, Newry, in Northern
Ireland, between 20th and 25th February, 2005, at the invitation of the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Thirty-five of us were present at
this meeting. We are extremely grateful for the warmth of the welcome to
Dromantine that we have received from members of the Roman Catholic Society of
African Missions who run the Retreat Centre, and from the Church of Ireland, and
especially the Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd Robin Eames and Lady Eames,
who have been our hosts.
2. Our meeting was held within the context of common prayer and worship,
including Evensong at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, when we were formally
welcomed to the Church of Ireland. On the Monday and Tuesday mornings, we spent
time in Bible Study, prayer and silent retreat, led by the Archbishop of
Canterbury on the Lenten theme of the Three Temptations of Christ. He reminded
us that it was our duty as Christian leaders to begin by listening to God,
before going on to listen to one another. We thank God that our meeting has
been characterised by generosity of spirit, and a readiness to respect one
another’s integrity, with Christian charity and abundant goodwill.
3. The meeting opened with reports from the Provinces most affected by the
recent tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean and the works of relief undertaken
by Anglican churches. We offered prayers for the victims, and for the ongoing
work of reconstruction and relief being undertaken across the entire rim of the
Indian Ocean, particularly in the Province of South East Asia, East Africa, the
Indian Ocean, and South India and in the Church of Ceylon.
4. The most pressing business facing the Primates’ Meeting was consideration of
the Windsor Report 2004, in which the Lambeth Commission on Communion had
offered its recommendations on the future life of the Anglican Communion in the
light of developments in Anglican life in North America.
5. We reflected for many hours on the recommendations of the Windsor Report;
listening first to Archbishop Robin Eames, who introduced the work of the
Lambeth Commission, which he had chaired, and then to Primus Bruce Cameron of
the Scottish Episcopal Church, who took up the work that Archbishop Peter Kwong
had begun with the Reception Reference Group. We considered a careful analysis
of the 322 responses which this group had received from around the Anglican
Communion, and which offered a high measure of general support for the
recommendations of the Windsor Report, despite some expressions of concern in
relation to matters of detail.
6. We then proceeded to our own reflections on these responses. There are a
number of things which are quite clear. Many primates have been deeply alarmed
that the standard of Christian teaching on matters of human sexuality expressed
in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which should command respect as the
position overwhelmingly adopted by the bishops of the Anglican Communion, has
been seriously undermined by the recent developments in North America. At the
same time, it is acknowledged that these developments within the Episcopal
Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada have proceeded entirely in
accordance with their constitutional processes and requirements. We also
wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral
appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be
committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The
victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen !
to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure
homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and
deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.
7. We welcome the general thrust of the Windsor Report as offering a way forward
for the mutual life of our Communion, and commend the following conclusions for
dealing with the differences of opinion which have opened up amongst us.
8. We believe that the Windsor Report offers in its Sections A & B an authentic
description of the life of the Anglican Communion, and the principles by which
its life is governed and sustained. While we believe that many elements of this
account offer a picture of what is ideal, rather than what is currently actually
experienced, we accept the description offered in Sections A & B of the Windsor
Report as the way in which we would like to see the life of the Anglican
Communion developed, as we respond in faithful discipleship to Christ. These
sections speak of the central place Anglicans accord to the authority of
scripture, and of “autonomy-in-communion” as the balanced exercise of the
inter-dependence between the thirty-eight Provinces and their legitimate
provincial autonomy. We therefore request all provinces to consider whether
they are willing to be committed to the inter-dependent life of the Anglican
Communion understood in the terms set out in these sections of !
the report.
9. We welcome the proposals in Section C for the future development of the
Instruments of Unity, although we recognise that serious questions about the
content of the proposal for an Anglican Covenant and the practicalities of its
implementation mean that this is a longer term process. We were glad to be
reminded of the extensive precedents for covenants that many Anglican churches
have established with ecumenical partners, and that even within our Communion
the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral has already been effectively operating as a
form of covenant that secures our basic commitment to scripture, the Nicene
Creed, the two Sacraments of the Gospel and the Historic Episcopate. We
therefore commend this proposal as a project that should be given further
consideration in the Provinces of the Communion between now and the Lambeth
Conference 2008. In addition, we ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore
ways of implementing this.
10. We also have further questions concerning the development of the role of the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and of a Council of Advice. While we welcome the
ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury as that of one who can speak to us as
primus inter pares about the realities we face as a Communion, we are cautious
of any development which would seem to imply the creation of an international
jurisdiction which could override our proper provincial autonomy. We ask the
Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of consulting further on these matters.
11. We accept the principle articulated in Section D of the Windsor Report
concerning the universal nature of the ministry of a bishop within Anglican
polity. Although formidable practical problems would attend any formal process
of wider consultation in the election and confirmation of bishops, we request
that Provinces should themselves find an appropriate place for the proper
consideration of the principle of inter-dependence in any process of election or
12. We as a body continue to address the situations which have arisen in North
America with the utmost seriousness. Whilst there remains a very real question
about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same
teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the
Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is
obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.
13. We are persuaded however that in order for the recommendations of the
Windsor Report to be properly addressed, time needs to be given to the Episcopal
Church (USA) and to the Anglican Church of Canada for consideration of these
recommendations according to their constitutional processes.
14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order
to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church
(USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from
the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth
Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond
through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically
addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the
Anglican Communion. (cf. paragraph 8)
15. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious
theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with
their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a
matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral
provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation
in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003. Equally, during this period we
commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary
16. Notwithstanding the request of paragraph 14 of this communiqué, we encourage
the Anglican Consultative Council to organise a hearing at its meeting in
Nottingham, England, in June 2005 at which representatives of the Episcopal
Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, invited for that specific
purpose, may have an opportunity to set out the thinking behind the recent
actions of their Provinces, in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor
17. In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present
position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that
resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in
June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process
which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in
1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.
18. In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to
persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of
Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a
sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.
19. These strategies are intended to restore the full trust of our bonds of
affection across the Communion.
20. In the second half of our meeting we addressed some issues of practical
ministry which have been on our agenda now for the last couple of years. We
received a report of the present situation in relation to the ministry of
African churches in particular amongst people living with HIV/AIDS; the dying,
the bereaved, and orphaned children. We noted that this serious challenge is
faced by all of our churches. We now accept, however, that our concerns must be
broadened to include those suffering from TB and malaria. We know that this
year 3 million people will die of AIDS, 2 million of TB, and 1 million of
malaria. We have also been called to support the General Secretary of the
United Nations, Kofi Annan, and world leaders in developing effective strategies
for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. In addition to
the commitment to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, these MDGs include reducing
absolute poverty by half and reducing hunger by half by 20!
15. In the longer term we must eradicate both. Other MDGs include lowering
child mortality and improving maternal health, universal primary education,
access to clear drinking water, and the building of sustainable development
partnerships between rich and poor. Accordingly we call upon the people of God
in all the Provinces of our Communion to encourage leaders of government to
pursue these goals with vigour, and to pray for the strengthening of their
resolve to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
21. Two whole sessions of our meeting were devoted to the important work of the
discernment of theological truth and the development and improvement of
theological education through the sharing of resources across the Communion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has identified this as a priority concern during
the period of his leadership. The work of TEAC (Theological Education for the
Anglican Communion) which was established at our meeting in Kanuga in 2001 was
reviewed, including the four separate Target Groups which are now engaged with
the development of specific education and training programmes for bishops; for
priests and transitional deacons; for vocational deacons, catechists and
licensed lay readers; and for the laity. In all this particular attention is
being paid to the distinctively Anglican component in theological education.
This mandate is of concern because some theological education across the
Communion needs to take more account of Anglican history, formu!
laries or spirituality. The discernment and definition of the “Anglican Way” is
being intentionally pursued by a dedicated Target Group. It is planned to hold
a Consultation for theological educators later this year in Canterbury, and it
is anticipated that this work will be a significant item of consideration at the
Lambeth Conference in 2008.
22. Our common commitment to the pursuit of projects such as these, together
with our recent very positive experience of close practical co-operation in
response to the tsunami disaster, convince us of the enormous importance of our
shared work together as Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, in the
course of our meeting, we have become even more mindful of the indissoluble link
between Christian unity and Christian mission, as this is expressed in Jesus’
own prayer that his disciples should be one that the world may believe (John
17.21). Accordingly, we pray for the continuing blessing of God’s unity and
peace as we recommit ourselves to the mission of the Anglican Communion, which
we share with the whole people of God, in the transformation of our troubled
“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your
mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable
and perfect.” (Romans 12.2)
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us
the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5.18)

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