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More objections voiced to Kigali communiqué

By Matthew Davies
9/28/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  Another Anglican Primate from the Global South has raised concerns about the lack of adequate consultation regarding the contents of a communiqué issued after a group of Global South Anglican leaders met in Kigali, Rwanda, September 19-22.

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town was the first to disavow the Kigali communiqué in a September 24 statement.

That was followed by a September 28 statement from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) which clarified that its Prime Bishop, the Most Rev. Ignacio C. Soliba, "did not attend the meeting and was not a signatory to the so-called Kigali Communiqué."

The communiqué was not signed, but was followed by a list of 20 "Provinces Represented," including Burundi, Central Africa, the Church of South India, Congo, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and Middle East, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Africa, South East Asia, Southern Cone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, and the West Indies. Bangladesh and the Philippines were listed as "Not present but represented." There are 38 Provinces in the Anglican Communion.

It is unclear how many, or which, Primates actually endorsed the communiqué or saw it in its final form prior to publication on the Internet.

The Philippine statement also offered greetings on behalf of the province to Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori and welcomed her election. "The Episcopal Church in the Philippines will extend an invitation for her to visit the Philippines in early 2008 for the renewal of our historical ties and covenant relationship," the statement said.

The Kigali communiqué announced that an unspecified number of the Primates present at the meeting would not be able to recognize Jefferts Schori "as a Primate at the table with us" at the next Anglican Primates' Meeting, set for February 2007 in Tanzania.

Ndungane, in his September 24 statement, revealed that although he was present for part of the meeting, he was not consulted on the document. He described parts of it as "not consonant with the position of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa," whose bishops unanimously issued a strong call to work for unity within the Anglican Communion in early September.

Archbishop John Chew, Primate of the Church of the Province of South East Asia and secretary of the Global South Provinces in the Anglican Communion, countered that a draft agenda had been sent out to the Primates ahead of the meeting.

"Furthermore, a Communiqué drafting committee chaired by Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi was unanimously appointed," Chew said. "Both Archbishop Ndungane and Canon Ngewu were present throughout the time these decisions were made."

The Kigali communiqué is not the first statement to be issued in the name of Global South primates or provinces without a clear indication of individual signatories or the full endorsement of provinces listed.

Two statements issued on November 2, 2003 and April 16, 2004 were signed on behalf of the Global South Primates by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, a leading critic of actions that endorse the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of the Church.

In a March 2004 interview with Episcopal News Service, Archbishop Joseph Marona of the Episcopal Church of Sudan denied signing a statement titled "ECUSA has separated itself," saying that he had been traveling at the time and there had been "an assumption...that I may have said that." Full interview: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_32616_ENG_HTM.htm

The third Anglican Global South to South Encounter, which met in Alexandria, Egypt, in October 2005, also issued an unsigned communiqué but noted that "a total of 103 delegates of 20 provinces in the Global South" were represented.

At the Egypt meeting, one Primate recalled that the delegates were shown a prepared communiqué, but that it was later indicated that all Primates present at the meeting had accordingly signed the statement.

A letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, that emerged from that meeting was also questioned by three of its alleged signatories, who said its contents had neither been discussed nor approved, the Church Times reported.

"The Primates of the West Indies, the Southern Cone, and Jerusalem and the Middle East all objected to the letter. One described it as 'an act of impatience,' one as 'scandalous,' and the other as 'megaphone diplomacy,'" the article revealed.

A November 17, 2005 response to the letter by Lambeth Palace noted that Williams is committed to the Windsor Process and added, "If this letter is a contribution to that process of debate, then it is to be welcomed, however robust. If it is an attempt to foreclose that debate, it would seem to serve very little purpose indeed."

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, in a September 28 statement, raised concern that portions of the Kigali communiqué "that take issue with the actions of the Episcopal Church in advance of hearing from the advisory group, and before the Covenant has an opportunity to be developed, are inconsistent with the Windsor process" which, he says, "requires patience and respect for one another."

He cited General Convention's Resolution A165 which affirmed the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Windsor process.

Griswold also noted, with concern, the communiqué's recommendation "that there be a separate ecclesial body within our province."

"The suggestion of such a division raises profound questions about the nature of the church, its ordering and its oversight," he said. "I further believe such a division would open the way to multiple divisions across other provinces of the Communion, and any sense of a coherent mission would sink into chaos."

Such a recommendation, Griswold said, "appears to be an effort to preempt the Windsor process and acting upon it would create a fact on the ground, making healing and reconciliation -- the stated goal of the Windsor process -- that much more difficult to achieve."

Responding to the claim that some of the Primates would not be able to accept Jefferts Schori at the table with them, Griswold said: "The role of primates is to bear witness as fully as possible to the life and complexities of their own provinces. I have sought to bring to the primates' meetings the wide range of opinions and the consequent tensions within our own church. I have every confidence that Katharine will do the same."

He further noted that "the voices from dioceses that the Kigali communiqué fears will not be heard seem to be well represented among the primates themselves."

Griswold agreed with the communiqué's declaration that "the challenges facing our Anglican structures can be a distraction from the work of the gospel," and was encouraged by the time "devoted to such concerns as poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, peace building and evangelization."

He noted the Episcopal Church's commitment to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. "[I] pray that our mutual concerns will allow us to work together for the healing and reconciliation of the world, and thereby find the source of our healing and reconciliation as a Communion."