Anglican Leaders Begin Talks amid Dissent

Anglican leaders from around the world began their weeklong meeting on Tuesday in the Irish capital of Dublin.

Not in attendance are about a third of the 39 primates – senior bishops or archbishops – many of whom are choosing to stay away because they feel it would be a waste of time.

Just days before the Primates Meeting, Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis of the Middle East said he believes the global gatherings are "manipulated" and "orchestrated."

"I felt now that it's a waste of time when you go to a place where the results and the outcome is already decided," he explained during the Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, S.C. "And there is no consultation in order to own the agenda of a meeting like this.

"It's cooked, pre-cooked thing," he contended. "And it is very sad, very sad, that this is happening."

Other archbishops from the Global South have also expressed that it is "pointless" to join the Primates Meeting.

The conservative leaders have argued that their participation "will only lead to further erosion of the credibility of the Primates' Meeting and accentuate our failure to honor the work already done by them."

They pointed to the moratorium that the Anglican Communion leaders had agreed to in previous Primates Meetings – namely on same-sex blessings and the ordination of noncelibate gays – and the failure of the U.S. Episcopal Church to honor the agreement.

The Episcopal Church consecrated an openly lesbian bishop last year despite calls for restraint. Still, U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was invited to participate in this week's Primates Meeting, much to the chagrin of the conservative leaders.

The Anglican Communion released on Tuesday the names of those who were unable to attend the biennial meeting. Though seven names were listed as "those who have chosen to stay away over recent developments in The Episcopal Church," some say there are more.

According to the American Anglican Council, a conservative body within the Anglican Communion, the list inaccurately identified the reasons for the absence of the primates of Kenya and Tanzania as "diary commitments" or "personal reasons."

"Both primates signed the November 2010 Oxford Statement claiming they would not attend the meeting because they 'can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy' in the Communion," the AAC pointed out.

Many in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion have declared the global body impaired, particularly since the 2003 ordination of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Last year's consecration of another gay bishop in Los Angeles only convinced conservatives that the U.S. body has abandoned Scripture and traditional Anglicanism.

The Primates Meeting was designed to provide Anglican leaders the opportunity for "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation." Primates have met regularly since 1978. This year's gathering concludes Sunday.

Anis of the Middle East has assured that he and others would be willing to attend the meeting if things were done differently.

"Even if there are people who have different views, have revisionist agendas, we are not afraid of these people, as long as the process is fair, honest, and it is not like a hidden agenda kind of thing," he said. "If there is this honesty of the process, then no one can fear to speak the truth in the presence of others."

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