Primates’ meeting ends with statement on global concerns as bishops prepare for Lambeth conference – Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The leaders of most The 42 provinces of the Anglican Communionincluding Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church, concluded their four-day meeting of Primates in London by issuing a written statement on March 31 which addresses a range of global issues and looks ahead to the planned Lambeth Anglican Bishops’ Conference for this summer.

“We return to our churches and dioceses aware of the call given to us by God, through Jesus Christ, and our need for grace,” the archbishops and presiding bishops said in their communiqué of the meeting from March 28 to 31. “We reflected on Christ’s servant leadership and our own roles as shepherds of his flock.”

The Primates’ Meeting is known as one of the three Anglican instruments of the communion, in addition to the Lambeth Bishops’ Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council, the main decision-making body of the communion. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby chairs the Primates’ Meeting, convenes the Lambeth Conference and is Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Welby had led two primate meetings online. This week’s primate meeting was the first to be held in person since January 2020, when Welby and the other top Anglican leaders met in Jordan.

“After being separated for our own good at the height of the pandemic, to just be able to be together and pray together and commune together and literally wash our feet is a sacred time,” Curry said in a phone interview with Service. episcopal news before the conclusion of the meeting. “It has been deeply, wonderfully spiritual.”

Curry also stressed the importance of hearing the stories of Anglican provinces around the world, especially in places where other Christians face war, famine and persecution. “There are people who are really hurting who are members of this church, and they are hurting because of their faith,” Curry said.

The Primates’ Meeting statement specifically expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine. “We call for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine,” the archbishops and presiding bishops said.

They also acknowledged ongoing conflicts and violence in other parts of the world, from Afghanistan and the Holy Land to South Sudan and Mozambique, and described the plight of refugees from those countries and others as “one of the major tragedies of our time”.

Climate change was another issue highlighted in the primate meeting statement, which cited the example of four Indian Ocean cyclones that hit Africa in two months, devastating communities in Madagascar and Mozambique. . “Environmental damage affects the world’s most vulnerable people, including indigenous peoples who are affected by the exploitation of forests and other natural resources.”

Primates also discussed a Church of England consultation on extending the wider Anglican Communion’s involvement in the choice of future Archbishops of Canterbury. And they spoke of “the unilateral decision to build the Grand Ethiopian Dam” and the potential for water shortages in Egypt and Sudan that could result.

“We firmly believe that the Blue Nile is a gift from God to the countries it passes through and should therefore be a reason for cooperation between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to achieve sustainable development,” they said. . “We wish to appeal to the three countries to resume, with good will, their negotiations immediately in order to ensure an equitable distribution of the waters of the Blue Nile.”

According to the Anglican Communion Office, this gathering of primates was presented as a low-key gathering, with “very little ‘formal’ business” and intended primarily for prayer and conversation. Bible studies focused on 1 Peter, which will also be the heart of scripture for the more than 700 Anglican bishops preparing to attend the Lambeth Conference from July 26 to August 8.

The Archbishops and Presiding Bishops originally intended to meet in Rome, but the Primates’ meeting was moved to England due to COVID-19 restrictions in Italy. A few primates still chose not to attend in person due to pandemic precautions that remain in place in their home countries, but they were able to join their fellow primates online.

Three additional primates chose to skip this meeting entirely for other reasons. During a Zoom press conference on March 31, Welby identified these primates as the rulers of the Anglican provinces of Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria. They didn’t give specific reasons for their absences, Welby said, but those primates have already made it clear that they “don’t want to be in the room” with leaders from other provinces, like the Episcopal Church, who allowed same-sex marriage. and LGBTQ+ clergy.

These issues continue to fuel tensions around the Anglican Communion. During the press conference, Welby was asked about his handling of a recent controversy stemming from Ghanaian bishops’ support for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in their country. Ghana in 1957 was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from Britain, Welby said, and that colonial history requires some caution in how it expresses concerns about policies and practices. shares of a self-governing Anglican province.

“If I speak recklessly, it may still sound to many people around the world like thinking that a formal colonial power white man is giving instructions,” he said. “And since I am passionately anti-colonialist and know that I have no authority, I constantly walk a tightrope in the way I express myself.”

That said, he also affirmed the “need for the proper, dignified and Christian treatment of all people, regardless of their sexuality”, which he said was supported by a 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution to that effect.

The upcoming Lambeth conference will likely face LGBTQ+ inclusion issues again, although Welby also said he also hopes the bishops of the Anglican Communion will broaden their conversations to the wider role of the church in the world. , following the conference theme “God’s Church for God’s World”. ”

“The encouragement is to look outward and examine other issues that are deeply troubling in the way we treat people on the edge, whether it’s food insecurity, rising levels of sea, war, persecution, freedom of religion and belief, torture, unfair trade practices and a million other things,” Welby said. “These are things that fall under God’s call to the church to speak for justice in all matters.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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