While issues around human sexuality and church order were the main topics of conversation when the primates of the Anglican Communion met in Canterbury from January 11-15, issues such as climate change and religious violence drew the broadest participation, said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
In a January 19 interview with the Anglican Journal, Hiltz noted that although the conversation around whether the U.S.-based Episcopal Church (TEC) should face consequences for its decision to perform same-sex marriage was driven by a few voices, when the conversation was opened up to global concerns about “the well-being of the human family and the planet,” many others joined in.
“[Primates] who are normally very quiet, who hardly say a word, were on their feet and talking about the reality [of climate change and religious violence] in their circumstance.”
The official Primates’ Meeting communiqué noted the struggles faced by Anglicans in some Global South provinces related to desertification and rising sea levels, and affirmed the primates’ repudiation of “any religiously motivated violence” while expressing “solidarity with all who suffer from this evil in the world today.
Before the meeting, Hiltz had said he hoped the conversation would deal with “matters of global concern with respect to our common humanity and our common home, the Earth itself,” as well as issues within the domestic life of the church itself. In a reflection penned a few days after the meeting came to a close, he drew particular attention to the primates’ discussion of climate change and religious violence.
But while he noted that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby worked hard to ensure that all primates were given a chance to speak about how these issues impacted them, restrictions on time meant that opportunities to talk about what Anglicans are doing to address these issues were limited.
“We weren’t hearing what, in fact, is being done across the Communion in a formal way through the networks and the consultations,” he said. “There is an Anglican Communion Environmental Network; there is an Anglican Communion Safe Church consultation; there is an International Anglican Family Network; there is an Anglican Indigenous Network-and they’ve done some good things, and continue to do good things.”