Communiqué: Primates’ Meeting February 2007
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Primates of the Anglican Communion. "Communiqué: Primates’ Meeting February 2007" (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 19 Feb. 2007).

The Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam

1. We, the Primates and Moderators of the Anglican Communion, gathered for mutual consultation and prayer at Dar es Salaam between 15th and 19th February 2007 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and as guests of the Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Donald Leo Mtetemela. The meeting convened in an atmosphere of mutual graciousness as the Primates sought together to seek the will of God for the future life of the Communion. We are grateful for the warm hospitality and generosity of Archbishop Donald and his Church members, many of whom have worked hard to ensure that our visit has been pleasant and comfortable, including our travel to Zanzibar on the Sunday.

2. The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed to our number fourteen new primates, and on the Wednesday before our meeting started, he led the new primates in an afternoon of discussion about their role. We give thanks for the ministry of those primates who have completed their term of office.

3. Over these days, we have also spent time in prayer and Bible Study, and reflected upon the wide range of mission and service undertaken across the Communion. While the tensions that we face as a Communion commanded our attention, the extensive discipleship of Anglicans across the world reminds us of our first task to respond to God’s call in Christ. We are grateful for the sustaining prayer which has been offered across the Communion as we meet.

4. On Sunday 18th February, we travelled to the island of Zanzibar, where we joined a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral, built on the site of the old slave market. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached, and commemorated the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United Kingdom, which had begun a process that led to the abolition of the slave market in Zanzibar ninety years later. At that service, the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted Mrs Hellen Wangusa as the new Anglican Observer at the United Nations. We warmly welcome Hellen to her post.

5. We welcomed the presence of the President of Zanzibar at lunch on Sunday, and the opportunity for the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with the President of Tanzania in the course of the meeting.

The Millennium Development Goals

6. We were delighted to hear from Mrs Wangusa about her vision for her post of Anglican Observer at the United Nations. She also spoke to us about the World Millennium Development Goals, while Archbishop Ndungane also spoke to us as Chair of the Task Team on Poverty and Trade, and the forthcoming conference on Towards Effective Anglican Mission in South Africa next month. We were inspired and challenged by these presentations.

Theological Education in the Anglican Communion

7. We also heard a report from Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables and Mrs Clare Amos on the work of the Primates’ Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion. The group has focussed on developing “grids” which set out the appropriate educational and developmental targets which can be applied in the education of those in ministry in the life of the Church. We warmly commend the work which the group is doing, especially on the work which reminds us that the role of the bishop is to enable the theological education of the clergy and laity of the diocese. We also welcome the scheme that the group has developed for the distribution of basic theological texts to our theological colleges across the world, the preparations for the Anglican Way Consultation in Singapore in May this year, and the appointment of three Regional Associates to work with the group. The primates affirmed the work of the Group, and urged study and reception of its work in the life of the Communion.

The Hermeneutics Project

8. We agreed to proceed with a worldwide study of hermeneutics (the methods of interpreting scripture). The primates have joined the Joint Standing Committee in asking the Anglican Communion Office to develop options for carrying the study forward following the Lambeth Conference in 2008. A report will be presented to the Joint Standing Committee next year.

Following through the Windsor Report

9. Since the controversial events of 2003, we have faced the reality of increased tension in the life of the Anglican Communion – tension so deep that the fabric of our common life together has been torn. The Windsor Report of 2004 described the Communion as suffering from an “illness”. This “illness” arises from a breakdown in the trust and mutual recognition of one another as faithful disciples of Christ, which should be among the first fruits of our Communion in Christ with one another.

10. The Windsor Report identified two threats to our common life: first, certain developments in the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada which challenged the standard of teaching on human sexuality articulated in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10; and second, interventions in the life of those Provinces which arose as reactions to the urgent pastoral needs that certain primates perceived. The Windsor Report did not see a “moral equivalence” between these events, since the cross-boundary interventions arose from a deep concern for the welfare of Anglicans in the face of innovation. Nevertheless both innovation and intervention are central factors placing strains on our common life. The Windsor Report recognised this (TWR Section D) and invited the Instruments of Communion [1] to call for a moratorium of such actions [2].

11. What has been quite clear throughout this period is that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is the standard of teaching which is presupposed in the Windsor Report and from which the primates have worked. This restates the traditional teaching of the Christian Church that “in view of the teaching of Scripture, [the Conference] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage”, and applies this to several areas which are discussed further below. The Primates have reaffirmed this teaching in all their recent meetings [3], and indicated how a change in the formal teaching of any one Province would indicate a departure from the standard upheld by the Communion as a whole.

12. At our last meeting in Dromantine, the primates called for certain actions to address the situation in our common life, and to address those challenges to the teaching of the Lambeth Resolution which had been raised by recent developments. Now in Dar es Salaam, we have had to give attention to the progress that has been made.

The Listening Process

13. The 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, committed the Provinces “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons” and called “all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”. The initiation of this process of listening was requested formally by the Primates at Dromantine and commissioned by ACC-13. We received a report from Canon Philip Groves, the Facilitator of the Listening Process, on the progress of his work. We wish to affirm this work in collating various research studies, statements and other material from the Provinces. We look forward to this material being made more fully available across the Communion for study and reflection, and to the preparation of material to assist the bishops at 2008 Lambeth Conference.

The Panel of Reference

14. We are grateful to the retired Primate of Australia, Archbishop Peter Carnley for being with us to update us on the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference. This was established by the Archbishop in response to the request of the Primates at Dromantine “to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches” for “groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces” [4] . Archbishop Peter informed us of the careful work which this Panel undertakes on our behalf, although he pointed to the difficulty of the work with which it has been charged arising from the conflicted and polarised situations which the Panel must address on the basis of the slender resources which can be given to the work. We were grateful for his report, and for the work so far undertaken by the Panel.

The Anglican Covenant

15. Archbishop Drexel Gomez reported to us on the work of the Covenant Design Group. The Group met in Nassau last month, and has made substantial progress. We commend the Report of the Covenant Design Group for study and urge the Provinces to submit an initial response to the draft through the Anglican Communion Office by the end of 2007. In the meantime, we hope that the Anglican Communion Office will move in the near future to the publication of the minutes of the discussion that we have had, together with the minutes of the Joint Standing Committee’s discussion, so that some of the ideas and reflection that have already begun to emerge might assist and stimulate reflection throughout the Communion.

16. The proposal is that a revised draft will be discussed at the Lambeth Conference, so that the bishops may offer further reflections and contributions. Following a further round of consultation, a final text will be presented to ACC-14, and then, if adopted as definitive, offered to the Provinces for ratification. The covenant process will conclude when any definitive text is adopted or rejected finally through the synodical processes of the Provinces.

The Episcopal Church

17. At the heart of our tensions is the belief that The Episcopal Church [5] has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by consenting to the episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed same-sex relationship, and by permitting Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions. The episcopal ministry of a person living in a same-sex relationship is not acceptable to the majority of the Communion.

18. In 2005 the Primates asked The Episcopal Church to consider specific requests made by the Windsor Report [6]. On the first day of our meeting, we were joined by the members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council as we considered the responses of the 75th General Convention. This is the first time that we have been joined by the Standing Committee at a Primates’ Meeting, and we welcome and commend the spirit of closer co-operation between the Instruments of Communion.

19. We are grateful for the comprehensive and clear report commissioned by the Joint Standing Committee. We heard from the Presiding Bishop and three other bishops [7] representing different perspectives within The Episcopal Church. Each spoke passionately about their understanding of the problems which The Episcopal Church faces, and possible ways forward. Each of the four, in their own way, looked to the Primates to assist The Episcopal Church. We are grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for enabling us on this occasion to hear directly this range of views.

20. We believe several factors must be faced together. First, the Episcopal Church has taken seriously the recommendations of the Windsor Report, and we express our gratitude for the consideration by the 75th General Convention.

21. However, secondly, we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us.

22. The standard of teaching stated in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 asserted that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions”. The primates stated in their pastoral letter of May 2003,

“The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”.

23. Further, some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention [8] does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.

24. The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships.

25. It is also clear that a significant number of bishops, clergy and lay people in The Episcopal Church are committed to the proposals of the Windsor Report and the standard of teaching presupposed in it (cf paragraph 11). These faithful people feel great pain at what they perceive to be the failure of The Episcopal Church to adopt the Windsor proposals in full. They desire to find a way to remain in faithful fellowship with the Anglican Communion. They believe that they should have the liberty to practice and live by that expression of Anglican faith which they believe to be true. We are deeply concerned that so great has been the estrangement between some of the faithful and The Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in the civil courts.

26. The interventions by some of our number and by bishops of some Provinces, against the explicit recommendations of the Windsor Report, however well-intentioned, have exacerbated this situation. Furthermore, those Primates who have undertaken interventions do not feel that it is right to end those interventions until it becomes clear that sufficient provision has been made for the life of those persons.

27. A further complication is that a number of dioceses or their bishops have indicated, for a variety of reasons, that they are unable in conscience to accept the primacy of the Presiding Bishop in The Episcopal Church, and have requested the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to consider making provision for some sort of alternative primatial ministry. At the same time we recognise that the Presiding Bishop has been duly elected in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, which must be respected.

28. These pastoral needs, together with the requests from those making presentations to this meeting, have moved us to consider how the primates might contribute to healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church and more broadly. We believe that it would be a tragedy if The Episcopal Church was to fracture, and we are committed to doing what we can to preserve and uphold its life. While we may support such processes, such change and development which is required must be generated within its own life.

The Future

29. We believe that the establishment of a Covenant for the Churches of the Anglican Communion in the longer term may lead to the trust required to re-establish our interdependent life. By making explicit what Anglicans mean by the “bonds of affection” and securing the commitment of each Province to those bonds, the structures of our common life can be articulated and enhanced.

30. However, an interim response is required in the period until the Covenant is secured. For there to be healing in the life of the Communion in the interim, it seems that the recommendations of the Windsor Report, as interpreted by the Primates’ Statement at Dromantine, are the most clear and comprehensive principles on which our common life may be re-established.

31. Three urgent needs exist. First, those of us who have lost trust in The Episcopal Church need to be re-assured that there is a genuine readiness in The Episcopal Church to embrace fully the recommendations of the Windsor Report.

32. Second, those of us who have intervened in other jurisdictions believe that we cannot abandon those who have appealed to us for pastoral care in situations in which they find themselves at odds with the normal jurisdiction. For interventions to cease, what is required in their view is a robust scheme of pastoral oversight to provide individuals and congregations alienated from The Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process.

33. Third, the Presiding Bishop has reminded us that in The Episcopal Church there are those who have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain of our Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of The Episcopal Church. In their view, there is an urgent need to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report and to bring an end to all interventions.

34. Those who have intervened believe it would be inappropriate to bring an end to interventions until there is change in The Episcopal Church. Many in the House of Bishops are unlikely to commit themselves to further requests for clarity from the Primates unless they believe that actions that they perceive to undermine the polity of The Episcopal Church will be brought to an end. Through our discussions, the primates have become convinced that pastoral strategies are required to address these three urgent needs simultaneously.

35. Our discussions have drawn us into a much more detailed response than we would have thought necessary at the beginning of our meeting. But such is the imperative laid on us to seek reconciliation in the Church of Christ, that we have been emboldened to offer a number of recommendations. We have set these out in a Schedule to this statement. We offer them to the wider Communion, and in particular to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the hope that they will enable us to find a way forward together for the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process. We also hope that the provisions of this pastoral scheme will mean that no further interventions will be necessary since bishops within The Episcopal Church will themselves provide the extended episcopal ministry required.

Wider Application

36. The primates recognise that such pastoral needs as those considered here are not limited to The Episcopal Church alone. Nor do such pastoral needs arise only in relation to issues of human sexuality. The primates believe that until a covenant for the Anglican Communion is secured, it may be appropriate for the Instruments of Communion to request the use of this or a similar scheme in other contexts should urgent pastoral needs arise.


37. Throughout this meeting, the primates have worked and prayed for the healing and unity of the Anglican Communion. We also pray that the Anglican Communion may be renewed in its discipleship and mission in proclaiming the Gospel. We recognise that we have been wrestling with demanding and difficult issues and we commend the results of our deliberations to the prayers of the people. We do not underestimate the difficulties and heart-searching that our proposals will cause, but we believe that commitment to the ways forward which we propose can bring healing and reconciliation across the Communion.


1. Namely, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting.

2. Cf The Windsor Report and the Statement of the Primates at Dromantine.

3. Gramado, May 2003; Lambeth, October 2003; Dromantine, February 2005.

4. Dromantine Statement, paragraph 15.

5. The Episcopal Church is the name adopted by the Church formerly known as The Episcopal Church (USA). The Province operates across a number of nations, and decided that it was more true to its international nature not to use the designation USA. It should not be confused with those other Provinces and Churches of the Anglican Communion which share the name “Episcopal Church”.

6. (1) the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion
(2) the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges. (TWR §134)
(3) we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. (TWR §144)
A fourth request (TWR §135) was discharged by the presentation of The Episcopal Church made at ACC-13 in Nottingham, UK, in 2005.

7. Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes; Bishop Christopher Epting, Deputy for Ecumenical Affairs in The Episcopal Church; Bishop Bruce McPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, President of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, and a member of the “Camp Allen” bishops.

8. Set out and discussed in the Report of the Communion Sub-Group presented at the Meeting.