Anglican primates will meet in Dublin to identify serious issues affecting their churches. Photo: ACNS
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, hopes the upcoming Dublin meeting of his fellow primates across the Anglican Communion will provide a greater understanding of challenges facing 70 million Anglicans worldwide.
In an interview prior to his departure for the Jan. 25-30 meeting, Archbishop Hiltz explained that the meeting will discuss the nature of the Anglican Communion and the role of its primates, both as a body as well as in their individual provinces. And for the first time since this meeting was established in 1978, discussions will be guided by a facilitator.
“I think [the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams] is doing his utmost to hold the Communion together,” Archbishop Hiltz told the Anglican Journal.
The 38 primates, representing Anglicans in 164 countries, will be asked to share their thoughts on two questions: What do you think is the most pressing challenge or issue facing the Anglican Communion at this time? What do you think is the most pressing challenge or issue facing your own province?
Rather than seeing this process as an attempt to sidestep the issue of sexuality, which has deeply divided Anglicans, Archbishop Hiltz sees it was a way forward. “If there’s any hope of some sense of renewed relationships with one another, it’s through conversations like these,” he said.
Reports that some primates with more conservative theological views are planning to boycott the meeting “does nothing to model for the church what it means to try and live with difference,” he added. “To simply say, ‘I refuse to come’ is anything but exemplary of the office and ministry to which we are called.”
Archbishop Hiltz has consulted with the metropolitans [senior bishops] and other officials of General Synod–the Anglican Church of Canada’s governing body–to formulate the Canadian church’s response to the questions.
Three of the four metropolitans were available for consultation and “not one of them raised sexuality or the [Anglican] Covenant” as real challenges facing the Anglican Communion, said Archbishop Hiltz. The “real issues,” they agreed, are combatting disease, access to clean water, security, peace, and reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
The primate has drafted a letter to the church, to be released on Thurs., Jan. 20,
informing Canadian Anglicans about the meeting and asking them to pray for the primates.
Archbishop Hiltz said his hope is that the primates emerge from the meeting “with a more wholesome view of the Communion …that the Anglican Communion is not all about tension and strife and division.”