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Seven 'Global South' Primates refuse to share Holy Communion

By Matthew Davies
2/16/2007

ENS photo by Matthew Davies.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria after leaving meeting with Bishop Martin Minns.   (ENS photo by Matthew Davies.)

 
[Episcopal News Service]  Seven "Global South" archbishops refused to receive Holy Communion with their fellow Primates February 16, alleging that they were "unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding."

In a similar action, as many as 19 Primates refused to attend Holy Communion at their February 2005 meeting in Northern Ireland because of the presence of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Canada, according to reports.

The recent decision came during the second day of the Primates' Meeting near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and was published in a letter posted on the Nigerian Anglican Church's website, despite the Primates agreeing February 15 that they would not disclose information about the meeting's proceedings until its conclusion.

The Primates were Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, John Chew of Southeast Asia, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, and Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda.

The full text of the statement is available here.  

At an evening media briefing, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia, the Primates' spokesperson for the meeting, said that he was unaware of the public statement.

"The Primates discussed at the beginning of the meeting how they would handle relations with the media," he said. "The fact that this appeared on the Nigerian website is news to me, but if it becomes an issue remains to be seen."

Throughout the day, Akinola was seen moving between the Primates' enclave and the area of the White Sands Hotel where the media are housed to join consultations with Bishop Martin Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a conservative mission of the Nigerian Anglican Church.

The Primates absent from the Eucharist called their action "a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired."

Meanwhile, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori "has continued to honor the agreement with her fellow Primates not to discuss the proceedings of this meeting until its conclusion," said Robert Williams, communication director of the Episcopal Church.