The upcoming Primates Meeting is the subject of two posts this past week from those from the 'slow-down' crowd - The Anglican Communion Institute and the Global South Anglican office. The GSA post is titled an editorial, the ACI post is just a post, but signed off by the whole of the writing group that constitutes the ACI.
The Anglican Communion Institute consists of several gentlemen and various computers. Sometimes they post interesting and useful material. Often they do not. But the title for their web site suggests a greater importance to their work than is warranted. The Anglican Communion Institute is in no way an "institute" of the Anglican Communion nor has it a particular claim to be a voice in any way for the Anglican Communion. But there it is. ACI articles are noted for length, deadly logic, and the willingness to beat the opposition with words until they cry out in brain pain.
Their most recent offering, "It’s Broken. Fix it!" presents an interesting proposition: no matter the right or wrong of primates not attending the meeting, no matter the charges that the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Presiding Bishop or any other person or body is attempting to manage the meeting so that it does not confront The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada, if the primates themselves do not address the situation, the "Primates as a Body" will become simply irrelevant.
"No one doubts that the Archbishop of Canterbury has certain rights and responsibilities in respect of the Instrument called the Primates’ Meeting. What is disturbing is the apparent concession that his power is infinite. One need not attribute to him any nefarious actions at all to acknowledge that such a view of his role would be intolerable to the good working of the Primates as a Body. If this is the problem, then let us hear from the Primates how they are prepared to address it. Anything less is just a counsel of despair and a sure way to watch the Communion slide deeper into dysfunction and distrust."
So ACI wants the Primates to take charge themselves, giving the meeting some teeth as an organization devoted to the unity of the Anglican Communion.
But the argument ACI produces indicates that the writers are unclear just why the Primates Meeting is without power. Nowhere do they address the fact that the Primates Meeting was initially intended to be for consultation and mutual support, not as a juridical tool. ACI believes the Primates Meeting is a "council of the Church." They say, "If the Primates Meeting is not really a Council of the Church and if the Archbishop of Canterbury has the power to defeat any influence from those fellow Bishops whose actual leadership and authority in the Provinces is not in question, then it must be renamed. It is The Archbishop of Canterbury Meeting."
Well, it isn't a Council of the Church. But it doesn't need to be renamed. The name "Primates Meeting" is not a designation as council. It is a MEETING.
Over at the Global South Anglican site, their post is titled an editorial, but there is no editor named. The GSA pages list "The Revd Canon Terry Wong & Team" as Web Administration and Editorial group. Whoever wrote this editorial, "On the Dublin Meeting: GSA Editorial was not having a good editing day. It is a bit of a mish-mash. The editorial opines, "Both before, and more so after, The Episcopal Church has once again proceeded, against widespread appeals and warnings across the Anglican Communion, not least from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, to consecrate an openly lesbian Mary Glasspool as bishop." "before, and after" what? And perhaps there is something missing in "openly lesbian Mary Glasspool."
More importantly, the GSA editorial is stuck with the problem that it is not the whole of the GSA Primates who will be absent, but only some. The editorial speaks of "some Primates" who "have arrived at the decision that it is neither right nor proper for them to be present at the Dublin Meeting." Will all the Primates in GSA be absent? We shall see.
The GSA argument for no attending the meeting is this: "In light of the critical importance of the Meeting, the preparations are gravely inadequate. As it stands, the Meeting is almost pre-determined to end up as just another gathering that again cannot bring about effective ecclesial actions, despite the precious time, energy and monetary resources that Primates and Provinces have invested in attending the Meeting. This, most Provinces could scarcely afford. With the disappointingly lack of serious transparent planning and leadership beforehand to prepare the Primates for a genuine meeting of minds and hearts to face the very real and obvious issues before us, it will be strenuous to expect any significant, meaningful, credible and constructive outcome of the Dublin Meeting."
The GSA wants the Primates Meeting to be more than "just another gathering." In that they echo the ACI desire for a Primates Meeting with some "teeth." Those teeth of course are in order to better chew the bones of the heretical and awful Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.
Both GSA and ACI want the Primates Meeting to be, by self-determined agenda building and control, a "council of the Church," appropriately attired to exercise the power of inclusion and exclusion, the power to demand repentance and to accept compliance. Otherwise, they contend, why attend?
So much for mutual consultation and reflection.
As it stands now, if the reader will recall, it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who is "the focus of unity," and the Primates Meeting is an "instrument of unity." Both articles seemed to me a bit rambling, attempting to grab onto a vision of the Primates Meeting that would make it the focus of unity in the Communion. Both assume the Archbishop of Canterbury will not take the lead in disciplining TEC and ACoC. Both essentially wish for a Primatial coup, replacing the Archbishop of Canterbury with themselves, and taking on powers never granted any instrument or focus of unity in the Communion.
The problem is, of course, that if they stay away the 10 Primates of purity are pure but not in the midst of the meeting. If they come they are still only 10 out of 38 and it is hard to imagine that they will have their way either in the coup effort giving power to themselves as a group or in exacting the expulsion of TEC or the ACoC from their midst.