Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali is among the six other Archbishops including that of Nigeria and Rwanda that will boycott this year’s ‘the Primates’ meeting in Canterbury this week. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury recently confirmed that up to six of the most senior Anglican church leaders have declined his invitation to Canterbury for the meeting that began Monday.
The Primates’ meetings are regular meetings of the primates in the Anglican Communion including the principal archbishops or bishops of each national province of the Anglican Communion. There are currently 39 primates of the Anglican Communion.
Ntagali together with the Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, Rwanda’s Archbishop Dr. Onesphore Rwaje and 3 others are snubbing the meeting in protest of the move by the Scottish Episcopal Church to permit same sex marriage which they say goes against Christian principles.
They say that Archbishop Welby and that the Anglican church has been hesitant to take a firm stand on the issue of gay marriages since the January 2016 Primates meeting which left a row in the Anglican church. In that meeting, some church leaders including Ntagali were critical of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. for allowing same-sex couples to marry in church.
Archbishop Ntagali is quoted by Virtue Online, an Anglican online news service to have described the consecration of U.S gay Bishop (emeritus) Gene Robinson as “the breaking point for the Anglican Communion” and “a tear in the communion at its deepest level that has never been repaired”.
“Every attempt to repair the torn fabric and heal the betrayal has made the situation worse. Collective decisions made by the Primates sitting together have not been implemented by two different Archbishops of Canterbury or his staff,” he added.
He accuses the Anglican Consultative Council of disregarding the wisdom of the Primates.
“Of the Anglican Communion, I’ve asked myself, “What do we have in common? At times, I wonder whether we really share a common faith! If we are not walking in the same direction, then how can we walk together?” Ntagali told the website.
Ahead of the October 2 meeting, Archbishop Welby said those that won’t attend the meeting will be missed, adding that he was looking forward to the meet.
He said: “It’s such a privilege to have these meetings, to have all the leaders gather together to pray, encourage one another, weep with one another, celebrate with one another.”
“We will miss those who are not there and I am aware that possibly as many as 6, possibly less will not be there either through health or because they’ve chosen not to be at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Welby announced on Tuesday that the Scottish Episcopal Church will be excluded from ecumenical and leadership roles in the Anglican Communion. This results from an amendment by the Scottish Episcopal Church of the canon law to allow gay marriages in June this year.
He said: “There were a lot of expressions of disappointment, strong feelings from many of the provinces.”
Archbishobs from the Episcopal Church made a unanimous decision which Welby said made feel “very sad”.
“People were disappointed, they were angry but it was a very different mood to previous primates’ meetings. It was more like a family having to face the fact that something’s happened that is causing grief, than a club that doesn’t like one of its members.”
This is the second time Archbishop Ntagali has withdrawn from the highest meeting of Primates in Canterbury.
In 2016, Ntagali withdrew from a similar meeting citing the failure by the meeting to address long standing issues of sexuality. He claimed the meeting had ignored his proposal seeking that the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw from the meeting and other Anglican Communion activities until they revoked their decisions to wed same sex couples.