Global South Meeting Issues Communiqué

Episcopal News Service. September 22, 2006 [092206-5-A]

Matthew Davies

A meeting of Global South Primates, held September 19-22 in Kigali, Rwanda, has issued a communiqué criticizing the 75th General Convention's response to the Windsor Report and announcing that "some of us will not be able to recognize" the Episcopal Church's next Presiding Bishop "as a Primate at the table with us" at the next Anglican Primates' Meeting, set for February 2007 in Tanzania.

The communiqué -- which expresses regret that the Convention "gave no clear embrace of the minimal recommendations of the Windsor Report" -- is available in full online at:

The communiqué stated that 20 of the Anglican Communion's 38 Provinces were represented at the Rwanda meeting, but signatories among the Primates in attendance were not included with the statement. It is unclear how many, or which, Primates endorsed the communiqué.

According to the communiqué, the 20 provinces represented were: Bangladesh**, Burundi, Central Africa, Church of South India, Congo, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and Middle East, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines**, Rwanda, Southern Africa, South East Asia, Southern Cone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, West Indies (** not present but represented).

The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop-elect, Katharine Jefferts Schori, will become the first woman to lead an Anglican Province when she formally takes office on November 4.

The communiqué asserts that she "cannot represent those dioceses and congregations who are abiding by the teaching of the Communion" and proposes that another bishop, "chosen by these dioceses, be present at the [Primates'] Meeting so that we might listen to their voices during our deliberations."

In a June 19 statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, sent his greetings to Jefferts Schori offering his "prayers and good wishes as she takes up a deeply demanding position at a critical time."

He noted that she will bring "many intellectual and pastoral gifts to her new work," and acknowledged, with gratitude, "the strength of her commitment to mission and to the Millennium Development Goals," but also recognized that her election would have "an impact on the collegial life of the Anglican Primates."

The Global South Steering Committee is chaired by Archbishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, a leading critic of recent actions taken by Anglican Provinces that affirm and uphold the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of the Church.

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, who attended the Kigali meeting, has been at the forefront of issues of peace, justice and reconciliation throughout the Anglican Communion and has repeatedly delivered a message of "open and loving support for our gay and lesbian members."

The Kigali statement says that Jefferts Schori's position on human sexuality is in "direct contradiction of Lambeth 1.10 [resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference] and the historic teaching of the Church."

On the day of her election, Jefferts Schori said: "I believe that God welcomes all to his table, those who agree and those who disagree. The Episcopal Church always has been a strong voice for including a variety of opinions; the marginalized are welcomed at the table."

Referring to the response of the 75th General Convention to the recommendations set forth in the Windsor Report, the communiqué stated that "the actions and decisions of the General Convention raise profound questions on the nature of Anglican identity across the entire Communion."

General Convention responded with six resolutions that commit to interdependence within the Anglican Communion, express regret for straining the bonds of affection, affirm pastoral care, and urge restraint in consecrating bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church."

The Anglican Communion Listening Process and the development of an Anglican Covenant also received support in both Houses of Convention.

The Kigali communiqué noted the development of an Anglican Covenant, one of the recommendations of the Windsor Report, as a "sign of promise" and affirmed "the extraordinary progress made by the Global South task group" in the Covenant's development.

"We believe," the communiqué noted, "that an Anglican Covenant will demonstrate to the world that it is possible to be a truly global communion where differences are not affirmed at the expense of faith and truth but within the framework of a common confession of faith and mutual accountability."

The communiqué acknowledged that a growing number of congregations are receiving alternative oversight from bishops in other provinces -- arrangements that are in contravention of the Windsor Report and the canons and constitution of the Episcopal Church -- and that "in recent days we have received requests to provide Alternative Primatial Oversight for a number of dioceses."

In light of this "unprecedented situation in our Communion that has not been helped by the slow response from the Panel of Reference," the communiqué said: "We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to meet with the leadership of the dioceses requesting Alternative Primatial Oversight, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Network and the 'Windsor Dioceses,' to investigate their appeal in greater detail and to develop a proposal identifying the ways by which the requested Primatial oversight can be adequately provided."

The Network refers to the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDAP) led by Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and composed of 10 of the Episcopal Church's total 110 dioceses.

A group of Episcopal bishops with differing perspectives, who met with Anglican Communion Secretary General Kenneth Kearon in New York September 11-13, was unable to reach an agreement on how to meet the needs of those dioceses that have asked for oversight with a Primate other than the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion's main policy-making body, makes no provisions for alternative primatial oversight. Neither do the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

The communiqué also said that "the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA," however, the Archbishop of Canterbury continues to recognize the Episcopal Church as the U.S.-based Province of the Anglican Communion.

The meeting asked the Global South Steering Committee "to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion," according to the communiqué.

The communiqué affirmed a commitment by the Primates "not to abandon the poor or the persecuted wherever they may be and in whatever circumstances," such as the Rwanda genocide that claimed almost 1 million lives 12 years ago.

It also acknowledged the "agonizing situation in the Sudan," commending the terms of the Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South, but vowing not to ignore the continuing atrocities in Darfur. "We invite people from all of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion and the entire international community to stand in solidarity with the men, women and children in Darfur, Sudan," the communiqué stated.

Positive developments in Burundi were also noted, as were encouraging signs that an end to the conflict in Northern Uganda was in sight and that the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo offer "promise for a peaceful future."

The communiqué recognized the challenges between Christianity and Islam "and the complex issues that we must now confront at every level of our societies throughout the Global South. We recognized the need for a more thorough education and explored a number of ways that allow us to be faithful disciples to Jesus Christ while respecting the beliefs of others. We condemn all acts of violence in the name of any religion."

The group -- which claims to represent more than 70 percent of the active membership of the worldwide Anglican Communion -- recommits itself "to the abiding truth of the Holy Scriptures and the faithful proclamation of the whole Gospel for the whole world," but also "to the vision of our beloved Communion as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."