Concerns over Brazilian church’s possible endorsement of gay marriage forces move of 2019 meeting
The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) could take place in Hong Kong following a decision to move it from Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The Brazilian city was unveiled as the host of the 2019 conference at last year’s ACC conference in Lusaka. But the ACC Standing Committee, meeting in London, heard that the event was scheduled to go ahead at what would be a challenging time for the country and for the Anglican Church there. In particular, concerns were raised about the political and economic instability and also the Church’s discussions on human sexuality and marriage which will take place at the provincial synod next year. Whatever the outcome of those discussions, it was felt this would have an impact on the Anglican Church in Brazil and hamper its ability to stage ACC-17. Specifically, it was thought that the leadership of the Church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions.
Hong Kong emerged as a possible replacement during committee discussions. It was felt the territory had the resources to step in and also the experience, having hosted ACC-12 in 2002.
The Primate of Brazil, Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, expressed disappointment at the decision not to go to Sao Paulo but said he recognised why it had been taken.
“Sadly we do have financial and political problems in Brazil so I understand this decision,” he said. “We have been reflecting on the issue of human sexuality for more than 20 years. But we hope we will have the opportunity to host the ACC when these ‘storms’ have passed.”
The chair of the ACC, Archbishop Paul Kwong, thanked Archbishop Francisco for the gracious way he had accepted the decision. And he was quick to stress that Brazil would have the chance to host the conference in the future.
“This is a postponement for Brazil – it is absolutely not a cancellation,” he said. “We felt it would represent a huge challenge for the Anglican Church in Brazil to host the conference at that time. But we would welcome the chance to go to Brazil in the future.”
Archbishop Paul, who is the Primate of Hong Kong, said it would be a privilege to host ACC-17 there but the idea would need to be considered by its House of Bishops first.