And Then There Were Thirteen

Well there it is: Now there are Thirteen signatures more or less for real attached to the Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from certain Primates at the South to South Encounter in Egypt.

None of this would be of much importance if it did not signal several things: (i) a bit of disarray in the management of things by the administration of the Global South meeting; (ii) at least misleading and perhaps false advertising of the unanimous action of the Primates present at the Encounter; and (iii) rudeness and exclusionary activity on several fronts that on the face of it support the charge that the South to South Encounter has indeed determined that it will discriminate against those whose theological views its leadership find wanting.

First Jerusalem, the West Indies, the Southern Cone, and now Brundi have each disavowed the letter sent from Primates. Once there were 14 Primates claimed to be subscribing to this letter, and 3 absent from the final circulation of the draft but counted in, now there are 11 Primates and 2 absent but counted, although the Primate of the Southern Cone’s name still appears on the Anglican Global South website.

In addition the chief delegate from the Province of Southern Africa, Bishop Seoka stated in a letter quoted in an article in the Church Times that he had “found himself excluded from meetings, including those at which the letter was discussed - despite the presence, it appeared, of others who were neither Primates nor, indeed, from the Global South.”

So the wider list of excluded and disavowing folk included the representative from:

Southern Africa (cut out of the conversation),

Brazil (dis-invited);

Jerusalem and the Middle East,

The West Indies,

The Southern Cone (although the name is still on the list), none singled out as “Present but had to leave before the final draft was circulated”


Burundi, part of the list of those who had to leave.

So now there are 13, and some of that is a bit weak.

About the persons reported by the Southern African Bishop as “others who were neither Primates nor, indeed, from the Global South”: one could hope they were there only to observe, staff the meeting or assist in some non-intrusive way. But I believe such hope is in vain. It must have been at least irksome for Bishop Seoka, attending on behalf of the Province, to be excluded from the meeting and know non-Primates not from the Global South, were there.

Rudeness and discrimination know no boundaries, and no organization or party is excluded from criticism. Still, when it happens the criticism is in order. Once the planning committee for the South to South Encounter had decided that Provinces of the Global South could be excluded because their theological views were incorrect, and that went unchallenged, there is no end of possibilities for exclusion, rejection and manipulation to follow.

The Brazilian bishops in their letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, reported in The Living Church online, correctly chides the Archbishop for attending the South to South Encounter without objecting to the way in which Brazil was excluded.

The letter to the Archbishop has been roundly criticized on many levels. This is both deserved and unfortunate - deserved because of its references to such propositions as “Europe is a spiritual desert,” (see the article by David Edwards in the Church Times, brought to us all by Thinking Anglicans; and unfortunate because there are sections of its critique to which attention ought to be paid.

More importantly the letter to the Archbishop has been handled in such a way as to expose a serious problem with the exclusionary activities of those managing the workings of what is now called Global South Anglicans. The Chair of that work, the Archbishop of Nigeria, and the General Secretary, now the Primate of Singapore, bear the responsibility for this.


  1. Mark, I actually consider this a sign of hope.

    I think it indicates hope that there are a few primates courageous enough to say that their complicity in the letter to ++Rowan is a falsehood.

    I think it indicates hope that David Edwards challenged the idea that Europe is a spiritual desert.

    And I think the Brazilian bishops give us cause to hope that there is something more than bowing to the numerical majority when it comes to conserving the Anglican Communion.

  2. I rather wish the ABC had cancelled his trip to Eygpt and instead booked one to Brazil. He could have preached on what he calls, "Christian Friendship" to good effect. I am sure the Brazillians would have been able to host him on short notice.



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