Next week’s Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury is likely to impose the same “consequences” for the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) for endorsing same-sex marriage as those set out for the Episcopal Church in the United States last year.
After the meeting in January 2016 in Canterbury, the Primates agreed that US Episcopalians should not take part in decision-making on doctrine or polity in the Communion for three years (News, 15 January 2016). They were also prohibited from representing the Anglican Communion at ecumenical and interfaith talks.
Imposing the same sanctions, which the Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted did not amount to punishment, on the SEC is likely to be agreed by the 34 Primates.
While some conservative voices in the Communion questioned whether the consequences had any teeth after last year’s Anglican Consultative Council meeting — in which delegates from the US played a full part — sanctions on the Scots are expected to mean that the new Primus will be unable to follow his predecessor in leading the Anglican dialogue with the Reformed Churches.
There is also a Scottish Episcopalian on the ACC’s standing committee, Alistair Dinnie; but it is understood that he cannot be removed legally, and any change in the committee’s make-up would have to wait until elections in 2019.
Archbishop Welby spoke personally to each of the Primates during the summer to reassure them that he had not failed to enforce the consequences on the US Episcopal Church, and to gather their thoughts on what the next Primates’ Meeting should discuss.
The Primates of Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda, however, are boycotting next week’s meeting because they refuse to continue to engage with the US Episcopal Church. Writing on the American Anglican Council’s website this month, the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali, said that he would not attend “because for me, as an African, ‘Abarya kamwe’, meaning ‘one eats with those one agrees with or are in agreement with.’ Or, as the prophet Amos and our Lord Jesus said, ‘Can two walk together unless they are agreed?’”
After spending Monday and Tuesday discussing these internal issues of sanctions for the SEC, and the build-up to the next Lambeth Conference in 2020, the next three days of the Primates’ Meeting will turn outwards, looking at challenges facing the Communion, such as climate change, religious persecution, conflict, and refugee issues.
• Full story at the Church Times.