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Primates did not celebrate Eucharist together

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue in Dar es Salaam

The 35 Primates of the Anglican Communion agreed today that the American Episcopal Church had not lived totally up to the demands of the Windsor Report, but gave the TEC a pass saying that its actions were "sufficient" and "adequate in its own terms". The Primates refused any formal censure of the Episcopal Church. There was no public reprimand of the TEC in its continued leftward swing on faith and morals and there was no talk of schism in the meeting at all.

The dominant attitude was one of "gratitude" for the "substantially positive response of The Episcopal Church, to the Windsor Report," said Australian Archbishop Phillip Aspinall at a press briefing, and the Primates spent time discerning the best way the Windsor Report might be fully implemented throughout the communion, leading one commentator to observe that we are back in Frank Griswold's "circle dance" where togetherness is the bottom line.

The primates concluded that while the TEC did not use the precise language of the Windsor Report the group concluded that its responses were "adequate in its own terms."

On the moratorium for rites of blessing for same sex unions, the Primates said they were not so clear or satisfied with the response given by the TEC. "The group was not convinced by the rationale or the actions of General Convention - the disparity between the position outlined by the former Presiding Bishop and what is happening pastorally on the ground where the blessings continued - calling it a "lack of clarity" and "not full satisfaction."

On the issue of "expressing regret" for straining or breaching the bonds of affection (the Windsor Report never called for repentance though many provinces have called on the TEC to do so) the Primates concluded that while General Convention did not use that precise language, they nonetheless concluded that the TEC position was "sufficient" to meet the requests of the Primates.

"Work has to be done in The Episcopal Church itself, so it is best to assist the TEC to implant the thrust of the Windsor Report," said Aspinall.

The Primates did not celebrate the Eucharist together but they did participate in an act of corporate penitence (Penitential Litany) using the Great Litany of Common Prayer led by Dr. Rowan Williams and his chaplain. Eucharist is scheduled every day, said Aspinall.

"It was a day of intense listening characterized by graciousness, patience, care and respect," said Aspinall. "The Archbishop of Canterbury also welcomed 13 new primates," he said.

The Primates also welcomed three guests from The Episcopal Church; Bishop Robert Duncan (Network moderator); Bishop Bruce MacPherson (Western Louisiana); Christopher Epting the Presiding Bishop's Deputy for Ecumenical relationships. They, along with the Presiding Bishop made a presentation of the current situation and concerns about those holding minority views in the TEC. (See my earlier story on this here: http://tinyurl.com/2dqphl )

Also present at today's press conference was Southeast Asian Primate John Chew. He echoed the hope that the presenters to the primates would be able to find a space for healing and reconciliation in The Episcopal Church. (His two predecessors, Apb's Yong Ping Chung and Moses Tay were both actively involved in intervention in the life of the TEC rescuing fleeing parishes and in forming the Anglican Mission in America.) "The covenant proposal will provide a vehicle for healing," he said.

Following a question by VOL over the much-debated issue of whether both archbishops' Jefferts Schori and John Sentamu (York) would be seated, Aspinall said all the Primates were seated together and were all present for the duration of the day's meeting, "and there was no dispute about it."

On the subject of boundary crossing, Aspinall said there was discussion on unwanted and uninvited interventions of archbishops of other parts of the Anglican Communion and also the inhibitions the TEC was doing that caused it.

Aspinall said that tomorrow the Primates would pursue the conversation of today and look at specific proposals and responses by the Primates to the Episcopal Church. He said that Archbishop Peter Carnley, chairman of the Panel of Reference will report to the Primates and that they would consider it.


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