The Primates Meeting of 2011 is underway in Ireland. The report of that beginning can be found HERE. The beginning communique states, "Barring any last minute changes, 24 Primates are able to attend the meeting. As anticipated, some were unable to attend because of health reasons, others for personal reasons and a few because of issues in their Provinces, such as the referendum in Sudan." The numbers are thrown off a bit because the Archbishop of York is included as a primate, so there is one more primate than there are Provinces.
So, that is roughly 2/3 of the Primates in attendance. Not bad in some circles, but in vestries, standing committees or bodies such as Executive Council and the like, two-thirds attendance is a sign of a certain lack of confidence and perhaps indication of active and passive resistance both.
This is significantly different from the state of affairs in 2009 in Egypt. There it was reported, "it is expected that all Provinces will be represented at the forth-coming meeting, except the Church of Pakistan and the Church of South India, where in each case the Moderator cannot attend due to a previously booked engagement. When the primacy is vacant, it is usual for the province to nominate the Dean of the Province or the Senior Bishop to represent that province."
How many were in attendance in Egypt is not entirely clear, but if the press briefing is an indication, the sense was that 36 of the 38 Provinces was represented at the meeting.
Twenty-four Primates are attending the meeting this week in Ireland. If the seven who have declared that they cannot attend because of objections to the actions of The Episcopal Church were there there would be 31 Primates present, still down a good bit from past years.
Apparently the level of importance given this meeting is considerably lowered, such that conflicts, personal reasons and health led to non-attendance and as significantly these primates did not send a representative or "dean of the Province" to attend.
The light of the Primates Meeting is dimming a bit, perhaps the light of the Anglican Consultative Council is growing stronger. If so that is as it should be for the ACC is the only body in the Anglican configuration that has warrant of charter / constitution to speak for the work we Anglicans do together.
And it would be useful to remember that it is the work we do together that counts as the work of the Anglican Communion. Our disagreements are between member churches, and about them ACC is not empowered to do much. Perhpas it is time to turn to the positive work ACC is doing - the bible project, the work of the various inter-Anglican committees, and look less to pronouncements from the Primates Meeting, which seem not to be in possession of the faculties of all or even a sizable majority of the Provincial heads of churches.