28 February 2007

Dar es Salaam Confidential.

From the Living Church:

The Sunday service in Zanzibar put a face upon the primates’ divisions with no group photo, no con-celebration of the Eucharist, and six primates refusing to receive the sacrament with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. When the primates returned to business on Monday morning, the meeting’s final day, all signs pointed to an impasse with the Global South coalition refusing to endorse the joint communiqué.

As negotiations intensified, the consensus swung away from Archbishop Williams’ soft approach toward the Global South’s demands for a clear and unambiguous response from the U.S. The dynamic within the meeting shifted further as two of The Episcopal Church’s strongest supporters -- Archbishops Mauricio Andrade of Brazil and Njongonkulu Ndungane of Southern Africa -- had departed, leaving 33 primates to complete the final document.

Over several grueling sessions, marked at one point by tears and raised voices, negotiations over the language of the document continued throughout Monday, forcing the cancellation of a press conference several times. Outside the meeting, reporters and lobbyists received mixed signals on the deliberations.

Unlike the 2005 meeting in Northern Ireland, where access was strictly limited but information flowed freely, in Tanzania the primates kept their own counsel with little news leaking out. The self-imposed media blackout even extended to the ACC staff members, who occasionally visited the press side of the hotel to find out what was happening in the meeting.

When the primates broke at 8:30 p.m. for a gala dinner, they were at an impasse. Sources told TLC that Archbishop Akinola was holding out for stronger language and for protections for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori was also uncertain as to whether she had the authority to bind the American church or had the political capital to bring the House of Bishops along with her.



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