Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Primates meeting

Fr. Mark Harris over at Preludium is an excellent priest, thinker and blog writer.

Here are some of his comments on the upcoming Primates meeting:

Anglican Land, at least the Internet community thereof, is about to have a spike in its on- line life. The Primates of the Anglican Communion churches are meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, February 1-5. There will be all sorts of mutterings going on about what they do and say. So, just a few notes on perspective:

(i) The Primates only have as much power as we (the member churches of the Anglican Communion) give them. In some of our churches it is clear that among the favorite Articles of Religion is the one that says, "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England." (XXXVII) We find it applicable to any bishop foreign to the church in our particular place (i.e. The Episcopal Church, the Church of England, the Church of Nigeria, etc). So the Primates of the Churches of the Anglican Communion have no jurisdiction or power here, unless we give it to them.

Some have argued that that is precisely what the augmented role of the Primates was meant to address - unity as a fellowship in the diversity of church life. When the discussions about the four "instruments" of communion was first begun the idea was that the Primates might provide moral or theological guidance in the communion and that their collective opinions might carry significant weight. Unfortunately how that opinion was to be obtained was not made clear and the calm and deliberated conversations among equals quickly became party contention. The American realignment group in particular exercised considerable pressure and gave advice to the Primates who believed that The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada had gone too far. Whatever the hope, the actuality is that the Primates have become a venue for voicing differences, not finding consensus.

I encourage you to check out the rest of his thoughts here.

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