Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Harare and San Joaquin

It's About Time!

It's about time somebody asked the question. MadPriest and Elizabeth Kaeton have now done so.

If you've been following developments in Africa, you know that Bishop Kunonga of Harare (in Zimbabwe) has pulled out of the Province of Central Africa, claiming it was filled with homosexuals and queer-lovers. You may recall that Bishop Kunonga has been accused of complicity in murder, and is one of those to whom Archbishop Williams has not yet issued a Lambeth invitation. (You may also recall that when Williams visited Zimbabwe last year, he had not one pointed word to say about this nefarious bishop.) Central Africa's Archbishop Malango declared the see vacant and appointed Sebastian Bakare as the new bishop of Harare. There's been an ugly, and sometimes violent, response. As Mark Harris summarizes the recent news: "Now the deposed Bishop of Harare, Bishop Kunonga, has declared himself the Archbishop of a new church and no longer under the authority of the Province and on Sunday had police forcefully remove and arrest several priests and parishioners at the Cathedral."

EpiScope, Thinking Anglicans, and Episcopal Café have provided fine coverage of the significant developments in Harare over the last few months.

The cat appears to have returned Archbishop Williams' tongue to him, as a statement was released from Lambeth last night which includes this:

The Archbishop of Canterbury condemns unequivocally the use of state machinery to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, and is appalled by recent reports of Zimbabwean police forcibly stopping Sunday services in several churches in Harare where clergy have publicly and bravely refused to acknowledge Kunonga's Episcopal authority. The Archbishop of Canterbury stands in solidarity with the Province of Central Africa (which covers Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana) and the other loyal Zimbabwean bishops in supporting the acting Bishop of Harare, Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

Nolbert Kunonga was replaced as Anglican bishop of Harare in December of last year after illegally separating from the Province of Central Africa and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe. He did not receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference when they were issued last May. Kunonga's position has become increasingly untenable within the Anglican Church over the last year, as he has consistently refused to maintain appropriate levels of independence from the Zimbabwean Government.

Note this well: As relates to the situation in Harare, Williams strongly commends those clergy who "have publicly and bravely refused to acknowledge" the episcopal authority of a deposed bishop. And what has he said about clergy like Father Risard who have refused to acknowledge the episcopal authority of the inhibited bishop of San Joaquin?

The Anglican Communion News Service also reported yesterday on this statement from Kenneth Kearon (Secretary General of the Anglican Communion):
The situation with respect to the Anglican Church in Harare is a matter of grave concern to all in the Anglican Communion. . . . [Bishop Kunonga's] unilateral actions with respect to the Diocese of Harare and his own status within the Province of Central Africa are, to say the least, questionable and have brought embarrassment to many. Above all, I am concerned for the well-being of faithful Anglicans who seek to practice their faith in peace and free from violence.We assure Bishop Sebastian Bakare of our prayerful support in this difficult situation, and it is my firm hope that the Province of Central Africa will be enabled to find a way forward at this anxious time.
What thinking Episcopalian can fail to see the direct parallels between Harare's Kunonga and the former Episcopal bishop of San Joaquin? Pulling out of one's province and claiming a status that does not exist. Ejecting the dissenters. Living in delusion. The only difference I can see is that Kunonga has used his "pull" with the Zimbabwe government to use the police to keep the dissenters out. So far, Schofield hasn't tried that.

Of course, the acerbic Mad Priest was one of the first to point out the parallels between Harare and San Joaquin. In today's Anglican Communion, does it take a mad priest to point out what is so obviously true? Apparently it does.

Elizabeth Kaeton takes it further as she asks:

Where is the statement from [Williams] regarding the whole debacle in San Joaquin?

Does [he] have nothing to say about this violent act of schism which has occurred on his watch despite his dubious efforts to sacrifice the nobility of the scriptural warrant of "Speaking the truth in love" on the high altar of the False God of Anglican Unity?

Or, is he waiting to see what might happen in Fort Worth and Pittsburgh before he ventures out an actual statement that might mean something to The Anglican Communion in general and The Episcopal Church in particular?

Does he not have at least an 'atta-girl' for our Presiding Bishop for her courageous, costly act of 'guarding the faith' in - if not keeping the rules of - The Episcopal Church?

Or, does he have an 'atta-boy' for 'John-David and the Schismatics' whilst they push and bully The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion deeper into turmoil and trouble?

Or, perhaps a word of solace? Of consolation? Of, perhaps, hope?

Something.

Anybody?

What has the Archbishop of Canterbury said about the ecclesiastical havoc being created by primates like Akinola and Orombi in their assault on the Episcopal Church? Well, a few months ago – as Akinola was set to consecrate Minns in Virginia – he summoned up the courage to declare that such actions were "not helpful." Oh, boy! I bet that blistered them. [Not!]

"Not helpful." That's the sharpest criticism he can muster against those in TEC who are doing pretty much what Kunonga is doing. Minns' consecration was "not helpful." About Schofield and others, we hear not a single bleat from Canterbury.

5 Comments:

Blogger Cyclical Cynic said...

To compare the actions if Kunonga in Harare to those of Akinola vis a vis Martin Minns is patently insane. Which would explain why Williams didn't respond to them in the same way.

1/16/2008 7:05 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

In terms of civil law, you're correct: Kunonga has been accused of many crimes and has used Mugabe's government to back up his ecclesial claims with force.

But from an ecclesial perspective, what's the difference between Kunonga and Schofield? Both are "pretenders" to a status they do not have and are insane to claim.

1/16/2008 7:18 PM  
Blogger Cyclical Cynic said...

No one, including Williams, is complaining about Kunonga from an "ecclesial [sic] perspective". It's not his ecclesiology that's the problem. It's the terrorism, corruption, violent suppression of political opposition, and intimidation that's the problem. It's not like anyone's phoning up Kunonga and saying "Your ecclesiology is in error, brother".

Kunonga is not acting with the support of any Primates or Bishops. He is not responding to a repudiation of three, arguably four instruments of communion. He is not acting on principles and values shared by overwhelming majority of Anglicans throughout the world. So, that's the difference.

Besides, who cares? I don't see what the fuss is about. No one has ever demonstrated to me exactly what harm Schofield and Minns are causing. If a diocese wants to leave TEC, why not just let it? Isn't this supposed to be about ministry? If TEC thinks liberal theology is okay, why not liberal church order? Why exactly is a foreign-consecrated bishop operating on U.S. soil such a bad thing?

1/17/2008 1:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Cyclical Cynic, Archbishop Williams was very clearly responding to Kunonga on the basis of ecclesiology and not just criminal behavior. He said he was "stand[ing] in solidarity with the Province of Central Africa … and the other loyal Zimbabwean bishops …." He spoke of Kunonga's "illegally separating from the Province of Central Africa and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe." He marked that he had declined to invite Kunonga to Lambeth. To me, it appears that at least half of Archbishop Williams' statement addresses matters of ecclesiology.

As to your 2nd question, I have no problem with folks like Minns and Schofield leaving TEC and starting another church. They just don't get to steal what is not theirs. If they want to start another denomination and call like-minded people to themselves, then that's fine.

1/17/2008 9:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Cyclical Cynic, Archbishop Williams was very clearly responding to Kunonga on the basis of ecclesiology and not just criminal behavior. He said he was "stand[ing] in solidarity with the Province of Central Africa … and the other loyal Zimbabwean bishops …." He spoke of Kunonga's "illegally separating from the Province of Central Africa and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe." He marked that he had declined to invite Kunonga to Lambeth. To me, it appears that at least half of Archbishop Williams' statement addresses matters of ecclesiology.

As to your 2nd question, I have no problem with folks like Minns and Schofield leaving TEC and starting another church. They just don't get to steal what is not theirs. If they want to start another denomination and call like-minded people to themselves, then that's fine.

1/17/2008 9:44 PM  

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