Central Africa

Kunonga must go

The Rt. Rev. Norbert Kunonga must go, leaders of the Anglican Province of Central Africa said, calling upon the controversial Bishop of Harare to relinquish control of diocesan assets by Oct. 16 or face a civil lawsuit.

“There is no justification for your continued conduct of episcopal duties as diocesan Bishop” of Harare, lawyers acting on behalf of the province told Bishop Kunonga last week.

In a letter to Archbishop Bernard Malango dated Sept. 21, Bishop Kunonga said that Harare had quit the province over the issue of homosexuality, citing the Aug. 4 passage by the diocese of Pastoral Motion 8c which he said authorized secession. However Harare diocesan chancellor Robert Stumbles told The Living Church no such resolution was adopted. Bishop Kunonga’s purported secession resolution “appeared after synod” and had “not been on the agenda.” At no time did the Harare synod give Bishop Kunonga “absolute authority to drag the diocese out of the province,” he said.

Bishop Kunongas actions were “tantamount to a schism,” Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana told TLC on Sept. 22. “The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign,” he said. “The See of the Diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant and a new bishop elected to replace Bishop Kunonga. The schismatic group should not be under any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and various trusts legally vested in the Diocese of Harare.”

The letter to Archbishop Malango by Bishop Kunonga followed a controversy-plagued provincial synod on Sept. 10. The province consists of 15 dioceses in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In their letter to Bishop Kunonga, the provinces solicitors, Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans of Harare wrote “that despite your withdrawal from our client [the Church of the Province of Central Africa] you continue to conduct episcopal duties in the diocese of Harare and administrative business at our clients premises at Paget House.”

He was asked to surrender the dioceses automobiles, bank accounts, books of account and real estate which were “held in trust by the diocesan trust for the benefit of the Diocese of Harare but remain the property of our client, Church of the Province of Central Africa.”

Should Bishop Kunonga fail to comply with the provinces request, the letter said the province would pursue civil legal remedies.

This article first appeared in The Living Church and is reprinted with permission:

Lay Canon Elizabeth Paver is one of three members on the Anglican Consultative Council from the Church of England, and is a member of the ACC Standing Committee. She was therefore one of the international guests at the recent House of Bishops in New Orleans which was attended by the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates.

Canon Paver worked for 40 years in education before her recent retirement, and served many roles over that time, as for example Head Teacher at Intake Primary School in Doncaster and President of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

I met Canon Paver when I was an observer to the ACC 13 meeting in Nottingham. A participant on my blog wrote in a comment in the midst of a lengthy discussion of the Joint Standing Committee Report in a thread below as follows:

‘I have heard reports this afternoon that Canon Elizabeth Paver, one of the four who did not respond in time, has since responded and given her concurrence to the opinions of the other 9 who did respond.’

Because I am aware of Mrs. Pavers convictions, I wanted to understand more fully her sense of the recently released Report on the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC (Anglican Consultative Council) on the New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops.

When the report was issued, Canon Paver noted, it was in such haste that she was shocked. ” It wasn’t in the time frame we were led to believe when we went to New Orleans. It was my understanding that it was to be a report only to the A rchbishop of Canterbury and therefore it did not need to be finalized so quickly.”

The report was drafted NOT in the United States with a full committee

around the table, but was done by email. In Mrs. Paver’s view this prevented the committee from doing its work properly.

In any event, once the report was being finalized quickly, Elizabeth Paver read the material. This created a dilemma for her. “I think the process in New Orleans was accurately reported,” she observed. However there was a division on the committee itself as to whether the American House of Bishops had responded adequately to the requests of the Primates in Tanzania, and the report did not reflect this division of opinion.

“When the report was published, its conclusion represented a majority view, but it certainly was not a unanimous view,” she asserted.

When the report was made public in its final form, Mrs. Paver was confused. She was listed as having not responded, which was accurate as she had missed the Tuesday deadline but following conversations with ACC staff on the day of publication she agreed that the Report was an accurate account of the Standing Committees conclusions but needed to reflect the minority view also.

She agreed with the description of what transpired in New Orleans, but also agreed in principle with Bishop Mouneer Anis that what the the primates called for had not been provided. She was assured that Bishop Mouneer’s Response would be appended to the report in full which covered the areas that concerned her.

It is important for people to understand the crucial significance of the call for a moratorium on same sex blessings, Mrs. Paver insisted. “From my perspective, anything other than a full moratorium would mean that the whole report is brought into disrepute,” she observed.”If there is no moratorium and this can be demonstrated then in my view the Joint Standing Committee will need to issue a further statement.”

Two comments : first, here is a faithful laywoman who was clearly let down by the system. The bizarre and rushed way that this report was put together meant that she was reported not to have responded, and then it was alleged that she concurred. Actually, she did respond but not in time for the rushed release, and she agreed with the reports description but not its evaluation (which is hardly concurrence).


House of bishops

Observations of Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis on the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans

I am very grateful for the warm welcome from and hospitality of the Presiding Bishop and other Bishops from The Episcopal Church in America (TEC). I was invited to participate in the House of Bishops (HOB) meeting as well as the Joint Standing Committee, as a member of the Primates Standing Committee. It was a wonderful and unique opportunity to be able to listen to the TEC Bishops in New Orleans and learn about the Church in America. I was also very grateful for the opportunity I was given to address the HOB. During the HOB meetings I observed the following:

Membership in the Anglican Communion

The majority of Bishops are keen to maintain their membership with in the Anglican Communion. “We need the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion needs us”. Some Bishops also expressed their appreciation of the companionship relations and mission work between TEC Dioceses and other Dioceses within the Anglican Communion.

Values of significance within TEC

Ensuring social justice for all members of society

This would be expressed by the full participation of practicing homosexuals of all aspects of the ministry of the church, including ordained ministry. This also guarantees that gay and lesbian couples have their unions blessed in the church. Alleviating poverty through the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Goals. Autonomy

While they value their membership within the Anglican Communion, they are absolutely clear that TEC is an autonomous church and should not receive instruction from any other body or church, like the Primates Meeting. Inclusiveness

The American Bishops spoke about inclusiveness as an utmost necessity within church life. Everybody, regardless of life style or sexual orientation or belief should enjoy full participation in church life. Though they stress this value, the orthodox Bishops within TEC feel marginalized and excluded. The issue of homosexuality and the blessing of same-sex marriages is just a tiny part of the direction that TEC is moving in. Their views of the scriptures, salvation and Jesus Christ, His divinity and uniqueness, are very different from the majority views of the Anglican Communion. They strongly believe that this new direction is prophetic and will lead to reformation within the Church. For this reason they cannot wait for the rest of the Communion because they are taking the lead towards this new direction.

Several bishops are very critical of the idea of a Covenant; this is why it was not mentioned in their response to the Primates. The Archbishop of Canterbury graciously addressed the House of Bishops and shared that he believed that the heart of the issue is about the understanding of ecclesiology and Catholicity. He also shared with them that it is a Bishop’s responsibility to serve the common discernment of the whole Church. It was surprising for me to observe the angry response of several Bishops to these remarks. Perhaps this is because the Archbishop of Canterbury pointed out the very reason for the crisis we are in. This reason is the spirit of individualism within the American Church. Such individualism is manifested by their disregard for the rest of the Communion and ecumenical partners.

Resolution B033 of the General Convention in 2006 states that they will “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the Communion”, (which they clarified to include non-celibate homosexuals). In spite of this, Gene Robinson is welcomed and supported by the HOB. It is a source of pride for the majority of bishops that they were able to go ahead of all the churches and consecrate a bishop who is an active gay. Moreover they asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a way for Gene Robinson to participate at Lambeth 2008. This clearly expresses their determination to continue to travel in this ‘new direction’.

The House of Bishops expressed their rejection of the interventions by Primates from other Provinces. However they did not accept the Primates recommendation of a Pastoral Scheme. Instead they came up with an internal plan for “Episcopal visitors” which is unlikely to solve deep disputes between Dioceses and parishes and TEC. Of course it is impossible to imagine that TEC could both be a party in the dispute as well as a judge of it.

In conclusion, I believe that TEC did not and will not change its position in regard to the issues that tear apart the fabric of the Communion. They tried to use very ambiguous language to show that they responded positively to the Windsor Report and well as the Primates recommendation. However, I see that they are determined to go their own way. I am afraid that TEC’s position may lead to more intervention and further fragmentation within the Communion. They describe their position as a new Reformation, but they forgot that the reformation led to a split!

At a time like this we need clarity and firmness to resolve this crisis. Without this the Communion will fragment because every church will take the actions she likes. I do pray for Archbishop Rowan Williams at this time, so that the Lord may give him wisdom and the love in this difficult time.


Archbishop Peter Jensen

The following is part of the text of an interview given by Archbishop Peter Jensen on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on October 14

Tonight, we’re talking to the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen. The Anglican Church’s highest legal authority, the Appellate Tribunal, has ruled in favour of female bishops – a milestone in the Church’s history and of course its development.

But the Sydney diocese, arguably the most powerful and conservative in Australia, which Archbishop Jensen heads, was vehemently opposed to the move.

Archbishop Jensen thinks, as a matter of Biblical principle, ordaining women as bishops is wrong. But why, given the Church has ordained women as priests?

MONICA ATTARD: But first, Archbishop Jensen on the problems he thinks will have to be dealt with if women are allowed to become bishops in the Anglican Church.

PETER JENSEN: Problems of relationship. They’re not fatal but they will be problems of relationship. If you have a woman bishop of a particular diocese and there are in-principle objections… now, all around the Church this is so. There are minorities, presumably, in each of the diocese, who have in-principle objections, and they will find that difficult.

It’s not like having a woman priest, you could move to the next parish. If you have a woman as your bishop and you have an in-principle objection, then that’s a difficulty And then, of course, a bishop represents their diocese to other diocese and again, if there are in-principle objections, there likewise is a difficulty.

MONICA ATTARD: But what sort of problems could arise, having a woman as a bishop?


MONICA ATTARD: In a diocese?

PETER JENSEN: …as I say, it’s an in-principle business.

MONICA ATTARD: Mmm. But could you give me an example of what you think…

PETER JENSEN: Yes. There will be some, for example -1 don’t share this particular view – but there will be some who feel that the sacraments are not valid if a person who is not properly consecrated is giving the sacraments and therefore they will try to avoid such a person.

MONICA ATTARD: When you say not properly consecrated, what do you mean? Presumably they would be.

PETER JENSEN: They would be properly consecrated but, if you like, not val-idly That is to say they’re not, you know, people who should be consecrated.

MONICA ATTARD: But it would also be a valid consecration, would it not?

PETER JENSEN: Valid at one level, not at another and it’ll depend…

MONICA ATTARD: But which level would it not be?

PETER JENSEN: There will be those who regard a woman as not able to be consecrated and therefore, they would say, therefore has not been validly consecrated.

MONICA ATTARD: I guess that’s what I’m asking you. Why can a woman not be consecrated a bishop?

PETER JENSEN: Yep. On the side of those who are in favour of this development, they would say that it’s a huge development. It’s true that it breaks tradition of 2,000 years. Yet nonetheless, it must be done because of the equality of the sexes and as a matter of justice. They would say, furthermore, that any arguments against it from the Bible are not true.

MONICA ATTARD: You reject that, don’t you?

PETER JENSEN: Well, I’m standing for something else. Now, I agree with the importance of justice, naturally, and I agree too with the equality of sexes but I have a different way of putting it. I see, in the opposite case, a certain degree of agreement with the independence and the individuality of our modern society. I’m standing for what you may call community.

I’m standing for the relationship as the sexes as being equal but different.

I’m standing for another set of values and that’s what makes me, believing as I do about the Bible, against this development

But it’s not a matter of, you know, somebody might get my job one day, or something like that. I’m not accusing you of thinking that Monica, but there’s a certain idea that somehow this is a power struggle. It’s really a clash of two great competing values.

MONICA ATTARD: I guess that’s where I’m stumped, to be absolutely honest with you Dr Jensen. If you embrace justice and if you embrace equality of the sexes, where is the disjunct between the two positions?

PETER JENSEN: In our society at the moment, there’s a great deal of confusion about families and family structures. Well, I would say confusion. Others would embrace the new world in which we live.

But, as we all know, in the last 30-40 years, many, many people are now living single and independent lives and not interested in being in a family on the long-term, and many others would like to be but can’t find someone with whom to start a family, and marriage itself is now regarded as a, sort of, an option.


PETER JENSEN: It’s in that discussion that this business about women bishops is to be found. It’s in those values.

MONICA ATTARD: How? How so, can you explain it?

PETER JENSEN: Because I would say, if you went to a family, for example, and if you went to the sort of family I believe in, you’d come to a father and a mother who are entirely equal in God’s sight and entirely equal in the sight of the law but are also different and have different responsibilities within the family.

And it’s when we start talking about those issues, and only when we start talking and working through what we believe about those issues, that issues like women bishops begin even to make any sense at all.

MONICA ATTARD: So this basically comes down to an argument that women are somehow less capable than men of carrying out the duties of a bishop?

PETER JENSEN: I’m interested in you putting that point of view Monica because, first of all, I never said anything like that at all, but what you are saying there reflects how people are determined to view my position, not through any malice or anything like that, but because it’s so, it has become so self-evidently right that what I’m saying is nonsense and unjust. |jyp|