A six-day meeting in Dublin of Anglican leaders from around the world ended with discussions on the nature of Anglican leadership and acknowledgment that several voices were missing - writes Trevor Grundy.
Fourteen of the Anglican Communion's 38 primates did not attend the meeting for various reasons, but seven of them stated they were not coming due to recent church developments concerning human sexuality. In recent years, disagreements over human sexuality and the more open nature of churches such as the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have torn the communion.
The attendees said in a "working document" that they are striving "to express that unity in diversity which is the [Holy] Spirit's work among the churches of the communion and the community of primates. ... In our common life together we are passionately committed to journeying together in honest conversation."
In separate letters, they also stated positions on issues affecting Christians throughout the world.
One letter called on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to take immediate steps to end the harassment of Anglicans. Other letters contained the church's response to violence against women, climate change and the murder last week in Uganda of gay rights activist David Kato.
During the meeting, the Archbishop of the Province of the West Indies announced that his province has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant. It is the third to do so officially, the others being the Anglican Church of Mexico and the Church of the province of Myanmar.
At a final news conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, acknowledged the "significant number of absentees" but said that the fact remained that two thirds of the body of primates was present and three quarters expressed their willingness to attend but were unable to do. He said: "That means that two thirds of the Communion at least wish to meet and wish to continue the conversations they begun." He said that he would be having meetings with those primates who had not attended.
In an interview with ENInews, the Anglican bishop of Botswana, Musonda Mwamba, said from his offices in Gaborone that the five African bishops who stayed away from the meeting "are playing at politics" and should make it clear "that they are speaking for themselves and not for their provinces." The primates' meeting is meant to strengthen the church, he said, "not be used as a political platform."
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]