Notes from Primates Press Conference
These are ‘rough’ notes – as accurate as possible but not verbatim.
Press Conference Primates Meeting 2016
Friday January 15 3 p.m. Canterbury Conference Centre, Canterbury Cathedral.
AB Thabo Makgoba South Africa
AB Justin Welby
AB Josiah Idowu-Fearon Secretary General
AB Paul Kwong of Hong Kong
AB Justin: Those [ LGBT people protesting] outside have suffered greatly. Also announced the death of Hilary Morgan wife of the Archbishop of Wales. Opened in Prayer. See clip on BBC video here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35326324
The final communiqué was authorized by the primates this morning. The week has been complicated and up and down with much to talk about in ways that were quite difficult. As we went through it was clear that everyone had come with a desire to listen. The spirit was good. We were all together. On Wednesday everyone indicated they wanted the churches to walk together. It was a public unanimous vote.
Communique highlights large number of subjects Not only relations within the communion.
The group outside of LGBTI people with Peter Tatchell remind us of the pain and suffering of many LGBTI people around the world where they are criminalised. Deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality. I want to take the opportunity to say how sorry I am for the hurt and paint that the church has caused and the love that we fail to show in many parts of the world. It causes people to doubt they are loved by God. I want to say sorry personally.
The decision that we would walk together was taken on Wednesday.
I am pleased we decided to walk together. It is clear that it is not for us to divide the body of Christ, the church. The unity shown by the primates here is going to be costly and painful; as well as joyful and remarkable. We are a church in 165 countries alone, with 38 provinces, with 2000 languages and 4-500 cultures. One thing we do say is that we love and seek to serve Jesus Christ. We also sin and fail and need to seek forgiveness
What does it mean to walk together?
Primary fear for majority of Christian communities and Anglican communion churches is the violence they face daily. Risk in Congo for a woman going to get water of being raped, of [being blown up] going to church in Pakistan.
Primates’ best couple of hours of the week was when they joyfully committed to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ unceasingly and to all. We decided that we will have a Lambeth Conference in 2020.
A Fixed Date for Easter.
After meeting with the Coptic Pope and with Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, we wish to join with Pope Tawadros in unifying and fixing the date of Easter celebrated by the global church. Tawadros put forward the idea of the 2nd or 3rd Sunday in April.
There was a very moving and powerful discussion on refugees – 1 million in Tanzania alone with far fewer resources to deal with the issue – it is a huge issue around the communion, We also looked at corruption, tribalism and ethnicity and what church leaders can do to tackle these issues that face hundreds of millions of people.
C4 News: – You have made a clear condemnation of homophobia – yet you have put sanctions on a church that supports gay marriage.
AB Justin The process of TEC is complicated – the issue for the meeting was much more that they went ahead with a basic change ahead of the rest and without consultation. We have no power to sanction. But if any province [behaves in such a way] on a major issue on how the church is run or believes there will be consequences.
The Episcopal Church will play a full part on moral issues of refugees, corruption, evangelism, and worship – but not on issues of doctrine and how we run ourselves for the moment. That is to do with them not being part of our process of interdependence. There would be a similar response to other subjects.
Thabo Makgoba: We are a household and have ways that govern a household. There are consequences if there is divergence on how we operate. TEC has amended its [doctrine] without observing process.
Not a sanction but a consequence.
Question: Does this make the church look outdated?
He said: “It makes us look out of line in the US and UK, yes, but not in many other parts of the world, no.
“We are a global church and that means that there are different views in different places.”
We want to be responsible and relevant to the whole world not to a particular region.
Qn: Are you concerned how LGBT people will receive this news?
AB Thabo Makgoba We are a church of those who support people in same-sex unions and of those who oppose this. We are all created in the image of God. The decision is not seen as sanctions. We are hoping we are doing it for the good of the church and its impact on of all God’s people.
ABJW We are all concerned to make the strongest statement on the issue of the criminalising of LGBTI people.
Qn Is there a desire or attempt by the church to make their influence heard in governments in Africa to change that situation of criminalisation?
ABJW The basic answer is yes. We would love to see a change. A lot of African governments say we have heard quite enough from the former colonial power about how we live. We want our own situation to demonstrate a good example that helps overseas. The CofE was one of the first churches to campaign against criminaliastion of gay people under AB Ramsey in 1960s.
AB Josiah Idowu-Fearon There are gays and lesbians in Africa. Our cultures do not support the promotion of this kind of lifestyle. They do not propagate it as a way of life. The problem is of strong groups from outside Africa coming to impose what is culturally unacceptable If the West would leave Africans alone, we know how to live together in our differences, I would not support the word lobby, The primates make clear that the Anglican church would always make room for pastoral care and concern for those who have different sexual orientation, So let the church make everyone feel at home.
ABJW The condemnation of homophobia – is not in our joint resolution – someone leaked it a day early.
Qn Jayne Ozanne –What treatment will the primates take to address sanctions against criminalisation.
- I is for primates to make decisions for themselves – we are not a centralized church.
JO And what time did the primates spend on studying scripture?
We spent a lot of time on scripture. Huge amounts of time spent and continue to be.
Stephen Bates: If you are all walking together, why is no GAFCON Primate on the Press Conference Panel?
ABJW. The last one left 20 minutes ago.
Qn CEN The communiqué says that ACNA’s membership of the communion is a matter for the ACC. But invitations to the Lambeth Conference are the prerogrative of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Will you be inviting ACNA to Lambeth 2020?
AB JW I do not know.
David Virtue – What assurances can you give that things will not be swept under the rug if The Episcopal Church does nothing?
AB JW See what happened this week – We spent 2.5 days working on this point, Everyone was listened to with great care. We have no idea what will happen in 3 years time. I cannot speak for other primates – as to what happens in three years time.
AB TM This week we were primates of the Anglican Communion, not GAFCON Primates nor anyone else.
QN What if Canada goes ahead to approve gay marriage?
ABJW We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Qn Date for Easter?
ABJW I expect it will be in 5 – 10 years time. It affects school holidays and everything in spring and summer, Love to see it before I retire. The first attempt was in the 10th c.
Qn The majority reaffirmed teaching. What was the majority?
ABJW That is private.
Qn Where do you see the biggest area for movement – who needs to move more?
ABJW Please see Addendum A no 4. All agreed that the traditional doctrine of the church has been marriage between a man and a woman. A number of provinces are examining their futures. There was not a formal vote on that. We seldom take votes.
Who is to move? The Holy Spirit is not finished with us. All God’s people need to move.
AB JI-F People misunderstand dialogue. It is not to convince but to understand.
ABPK The atmosphere was much better than previous one I have attended, (4 so far) The atmosphere could not be better.
AB TM We washed each other’s feet at our closing service. There was a closeness after a hard working week.
ABJW The healing impact of Jean Vanier’s addresses was enormous. It was a powerful moment.
Qn Is it all worth it if it is so difficult to be together?
ABPK It is worth it to address this issue – not the only issue. The communion is a responsible body. The communion has to be relevant.
JW It is painful. The communion supports each other in most important way.
ABTM I want to speak of the support southern Africa experienced during the years of apartheid. If the communion had not been there… we were being challenged as to how we could remain in a white communion when whites were persecuting blacks. The Communion held, there is a hope in God. This is not the only missional matter before us – there are the struggles in Congo and Sudan.
This critical issue is not a church dividing matter.
Qn Andrew Brown – In Lambeth 1998 when Bishop (a Nigerian Bishop) tried to exorcise a gay man, did that count as pastoral care?
ABJIF At that time for the Bishop there were no guidelines. I am not sure he would say the same thing today. We have to leave each part of the communion to live out the position of the communion. It is our responsibility to give pastoral care and protection.
QN Madeleine CT – Will the agreement free up time for mission?
ABJW Every ABC comes into post thinking if I can deal with this, then we will be alright and then other things came. It is always an illusion that there is just one more thing to deal with.
This issue concerns the dignity of the human being and the value we attach to them.
We establish this is a way to deal with church dividing issues in any area. You are entitled to go off on your own – if you ignore that there will be consequences. That is how it has always worked. There will still be consequences.
NY Times – how many supported the resolution, how many were against it?
ABJW The overwhelming majority supported it. I will not give the figures,.
Qn Did you discuss reorganizing into a federation?
ABJW Half the communion is dealing with violence, that is more important than internal reorganization.
Qn Times: Is the CofE less relevant?
ABJW I answered that question at the beginning
Qn John Martin – What was the pattern of the meeting?
ABJW The rythym of the meeting was morning prayer in the Cathedral. Followed by Eucharist. After breakfast we had sessions. We went back to evening prayer and dinner. Undergirded by prayer and the offices. Wonderful to have community of St Anselm praying for us.
ABPK It was unconventional. His grace allowed the participating primates to work out the agenda on our own. It was very inviting and welcoming. It allowed me to participate fully.
ABJW Observers spent the week us. Their role was to carry microphones around. Help to listen to each other more attentively. They sat and enabled discussion.
Qn Did the Primate of Uganda leave?
ABJW He left early. I do not know why he left. Did not speak to me before he left
Qn Ruth Gledhill What are your hopes and fears for the Lambeth Conference 2020?
ABJW I hope we get the money. I hope it’s a conference that affirms and that does not hurt people and that glorifies God. People to celebrate the love and joy and welcome of Jesus Christ with passion and renewed to serve God which is so dark at the moment.
Watch: Primates 2016 Presser, Anglican Ink