Anglican leaders call for 'bold' action to counter 'vaccine hesitancy'

(Photo: Unsplash/Michael Marais)

Leaders of the Anglican Communion have called on the World Health Assembly (WHA) to counter Covid "vaccine hesitancy" around the globe.

The Primates' Meeting of Anglican Archbishops and Presiding Bishops, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, took place online over two days this week.

The Primates, who lead 41 Anglican Provinces across around 165 countries, wrote a letter to the WHA ahead of its Special Session next week urging it "to be bold and courageous in its plans for an international agreement and treaty on global health emergency preparedness and response".

They also urged the WHA "to address and improve both equity in the distribution of vaccines and education to counter vaccine hesitancy around the globe".

The call coincides with increasing concern over the new Omicron strain, which has triggered fresh travel bans.

The Primates said in a statement after their meeting: "We are united in calling for greater vaccine equity, based on a spirit not of charity but of recognising the common good in resolving the current disparity."

They called for "generosity from those who have towards those who have not" and for a "greater acknowledgment of the effect of the pandemic on health and education".

The statement noted the Primates' conversations on the climate emergency and recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, as well as the creation of the Anglican Communion Science Commission bringing together scientists and theologians, which will be formally launched at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in summer 2022.

The Primates encouraged attendance at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops worldwide, due to be hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury over July and August next year.

"We also look forward to the opportunity of meeting at the full event being planned for 27 July – 8 August 2022 in Canterbury. It is our hope and prayer that as many people as can will take part in this important event in our life as an Anglican Communion," they said.

Orthodox Anglican Bishops in the GAFCON movement, including the Archbishops of Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, have said they will boycott the Lambeth Conference because of Archbishop Welby's decision to invite bishops from the Episcopal Church in the US, which approves same-sex marriage services, and the Anglican Church of Canada, which approves same-sex blessings.

But the Archbishop of Sudan, Ezekiel Kondo, has urged Anglican traditionalists to attend Lambeth and to argue for the biblical teaching on human sexuality, US website Anglican Ink reports.

The next Primates' Meeting is due to take place in Rome in March 2022.