Having just posted a note that roughly 2/3 of the primates are attending the Primates Meeting, I was surprised to find that the Anglican Communion Institute is playing a different numbers game.
I pointed out that 2/3 of the Primates are there. If the listing given by the Anglican Communion Office is true that's about right.
The Anglican Communion Institute seems interested in a different sort of number, namely the number of people represented by various heads of churches. So they have written a little report, The Dublin ‘Meeting’ in which they point out with greater force than I obliquely suggested that,
"Of the fourteen Primates who made this representation, it appears that only one will be attending any part of the meeting. In this light, the defensive explanations of why Primates are not attending offered by the Secretary General and the Communion Office (e.g. visa problems, diary conflicts, etc.) must raise eyebrows. Why should we think that those who publicly stated two months ago why they were not planning to attend now really wanted to come, but forgot they had another appointment? A little candor by those in attendance would be nice."
I couldn't agree more, although my sense is that political niceties take many forms, and in the cases of those who were not part of the group of fourteen (although how that number is derived is open to some interpretation) it of course does not apply. Still, there seems to have been some passive resistance going on.
But then the ACI moves into high gear: First there is the magic analysis of the Church of England statistics in which 25 million members becomes 1 million Sunday worshipers, and the 30 million souls assigned to Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. I suppose this number is assumed by ACI to be Sunday worshipers. So they whack away at the 80 million rough guess for the Anglican Communion, replace it with a lesser number - 65 million, of which the number of persons in churches opposed to the doings of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, and perhaps the leadership of the Archbishop, turns out to be, about 2/3 of all Anglicans.
Now this numerology is both impossible to confirm. It relies on the statistics of churches who count their membership in very different ways. More, it assumes that Primates carry in their pockets the proxy ballots of all their members - that they come as representatives of the mind of their whole churches rather than as persons who head churches with quite different powers and authority one from another.
ACI doesn't seem to let this bother them. So they close with this remarkable statement:
"Assuming a Communion membership of around 65 million, the following chart shows the proportion of Anglicans who are represented at the Primates’ current meeting (about 21 million) and those whose Primates are absent (45 million). By and large, the breakdown goes along Anglo vs. Global South lines. It is beyond time for questioning why Primates are not present or whether they should attend. At issue is the health of the Communion and the restoration of trust. Those present, if they wish to proceed as if this was a representative meeting of the Communion, need to ask what has gone wrong and determine how can it be righted.”
ACI believes that 2/3 of the Anglican Communion has boycotted the meeting. The count of Primates in attendance gives another view, that 2/3 of the Primates attended. ACI misunderstands the role of the Primates Meeting as some sort of representative body. It is not. It is a meeting of cognate persons - heads of churches - for mutual sharing, of which there seems to be less going on now than before.
But it is not a "representative meeting of the Communion."