7 conservative primates refuse to take communion with fellow leaders

Published February 16, 2007

Seven Anglican leaders who call themselves “Global South Primates” have boycotted a eucharist with their fellow primates calling it a “deliberate action” to show the “brokenness” of the Anglican Communion and their provinces’ “broken or severely impaired” relationship with the U.S. Episcopal Church.

“We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with the Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired,” the primates said in a statement posted on the Web site of the Church of Nigeria. (www.anglican-nig.org)The statement was signed by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone of the Americas, and Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda. This is the second time that the primates, who believe homosexuality to be contrary to Scripture, have snubbed a eucharist during a primates’ meeting. The first was during a meeting held in 2005 in Dromantine, Northern Ireland. Anglicans have been divided over the place of homosexuals in the church for years but the issue came to a head in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Primates, mostly representing countries from the developing world, have also expressed their displeasure over last year’s election of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female head of the U.S. church and the first female primate in and the Anglican Communion. She supported Bishop Robinson’s election.

In explaining their boycott of the eucharist, the primates said, “Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Table we must be reconciled …We have made repeated calls for repentance by The Episcopal Church leadership with no success. We continue to pray for a change of heart. We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding.” Earlier, a sub-group, whose members include Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, had released a report stating that the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report’s call for a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops has been “adequate.”The sub-group charged with monitoring the American church’s response reached consensus that although it did not adopt the 2004 report’s language calling for a “moratorium” on the election of gay bishops, “it probably did the most that could have been done, and the response to that request has been adequate,” said Australia’s Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, during a media briefing at the end of the primates’ first day of meetings on Feb.15. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution last year calling on its church to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

The sub-group noted that the majority of bishops with jurisdiction had indicated that they would abide by this resolution and that this marked “a significant shift from the position which applied in 2003.” The group said it believed that General Convention “has complied in this resolution with the request of the primates.”

The sub-group said, however, that it was “not convinced about the rationale of why General Convention did not act explicitly” on the issue of the blessing of same-sex unions said Archbishop Aspinall. The sub-group said in its report that this was a question that “needs to be addressed urgently by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Anglican leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion convened on Feb. 15 for a five-day meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that had at the top of its agenda, the issue of whether the Episcopal Church in the U.S. has “adequately responded” to the Windsor Report and what the future of the grouping of 38 provinces consisting of 77 million members would be.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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