Sunday, November 14, 2010

Primatial prognostications

As news, views, and counter-assertions about the Primates' Meeting in January, 2011 circulates, it may be worth pondering that this is a significant meeting in the life of the Communion. If it were to be cancelled that would signal that the Communion is unable to assure itself of the viability of one of its four 'Instruments': a telling moment in the unfolding future of the Communion, and the telling would be of disintegration, not of renewal. I think we will see the Meeting going ahead.

It would not be helpful for the assurance of the viability of this Instrument if a significant number of primates did not attend, especially if those primates were drawn from just one or two regions. What kind of global entity cannot secure global representation? It makes sense that ++Rowan, according to a George Conger report, is exploring an alternative way of meeting via a set of small groups of primates meeting together in order to have all the primates in the same city.  Inevitably the eyes of the Communion will be searching any alternative proposal for signs that the primates gathered in the same city also gather, at least for a moment that matters, in the same room. I imagine this could happen if, say, the moment was to hear a report from each of the small groups.

A third prediction: the Primates' Meeting will be geared in such a manner that the outcome (report, recommendations, press release) is something that can be followed through and implemented. Recent meetings have suffered, it appears, from the perception that the Anglican Communion Office has found ways to ignore the outcomes. The perception looks like reality: the Primates have said one thing and another has been done (or not done). In the end this perception damages the reputation both of the Primates' Meeting and of the ACO. Expect to see a reputation saving outcome.

What is impossible to predict is whether the Primates' Meeting will be able to be viewed in February as 'successful'. It is possible to plan for such a meeting with blinkers on: if we do X and Y we can secure outcome Z and that will be well-received. Outcome Z might be received, in reality, with outrage, disbelief, or hollow laughter. ADU hopes that there are no blinkers on ++Williams, Kearon, and co.

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