Critical Anglican Meeting Commences in Tanzania

The Anglican Primates meeting officially opened on Thursday reportedly heading straight into sessions on the Episcopal Church and its long awaited response to what many bishops see as violations of Scripture.

|PIC1|Although many of the 35 Anglican heads present say such global issues as poverty and AIDS deserve more attention than the controversy over homosexuality in the United States, the Anglican agenda placed the issue of sexuality and the Episcopal Church's controversial views ahead of other pressing issues.

U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was scheduled to speak during the first two sessions of the nearly weeklong meeting at the White Sands Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Thursday morning. While some of the Anglican bishops from the Global South had said that they would not recognize Jefferts Schori at the same Primates table, the presence of the U.S. head was affirmed at the meeting.

"There is no question of her presence at the meeting," said Canon James Rosenthal, director of communications for the Anglican Consultative Council, on Wednesday, according to the Living Church Foundation, a publication supporting orthodox, catholic Anglicanism within the Episcopal Church.

A 2004 Windsor Report invited the Episcopal Church to express regret over the consecration of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson in 2003 and until there was an apology, the involved parties were asked to consider withdrawing themselves from functions of the Anglican Communion.

A full response to the Windsor Report by the U.S. Anglican body was not given before the global meeting but is expected this week. Rosenthal plainly stated that Jefferts Schori is "here by right" and her attendance was "confirmed [Wednesday] morning" by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who leads the world's 77 million Anglicans as the "first among equals."

The latest reports indicated that three other invited bishops from the United States went into an extra-curricular session with the U.S. head and Williams Thursday afternoon. The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Anglican Communion Network; the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, presiding bishop's deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations; and the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce McPherson, bishop of Western Louisiana and president of the presiding bishop's Council of Advice, were invited by Williams as representatives of the wide beliefs held by Anglicans in the United States. They were allotted five to 10 minutes for opening remarks which were scheduled to be followed by questions posed by the primates.

Security is tight around the White Sands Resort as the Anglican heads, 13 of whom are attending for the first time, convene for the next five days until Feb. 19. Three primates are absent from the gathering.

Jefferts Schori remains calm and expressed that she welcomes the opportunity to meet new colleagues and build relationships, according to the Episcopal News Service. Meanwhile, the Global South Primates presented a letter to Williams on Feb. 14. Contents within the letter have not been officially confirmed.