Wednesday, July 16, 2008

And so it begins

The Lambeth conference began today. Most of the blogs linked to the righthand side here have assorted coverage of events. So far, it appears that no one has managed to stage a coup d'eglise and reorder the Communion to their own liking.

Of course, that is partly because those who would do so have mostly decided to boycott the show. Bishops from Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya have decided not to attend - and the bishops of the Diocese of Sydney, having had their hands forced when the Primate of Nigeria falsely claimed they'd already decided to boycott - were pretty much cornered into boycotting.

But it turns out that at least one Nigerian bishop, at least one Rwandan bishop, and as many as ten Kenyan bishops (one third of their whole House) have effectively told their imperious primates where to get off. At this point, it appears that only Uganda has managed to enforce it's refusenik position.

The Primate of Nigeria is already breathing fire and has threatened "serious" consequences against this dissenter. So it turns out that the "conservative" myth of oppression (ie, the false claim that conservative clergy in North America are "persecuted") is based on their own behaviour. They know that they use bully tactics when they can, so they assume everyone else is a shameless and wicked as they are.

Of course, refusing to turn up is not - despite their histrionics - the tactic of winners. It is the chosen tactic of those who know that they are losing.

Pity. As obnoxious and two-faced as Peter Akinola and his co-conspirators are, few if any liberals want to see them expelled from the Communion. (Might not shed a tear if they left on their own, perhaps, but that's not the same as wanting them punted.)

In any event, the defiance of at least 12 African bishops has shown up the weakness of those who would set themselves up as a new inquisition.

Pray for the all the bishops who showed up. And pray for the bishops who didn't. And pray especially for the primus inter pares, Rowan of Canterbury. A useful prayer is offered on the righthand side of this page.


Cany said...

As seriously opposed as I am to the likes of Akinola, Orombi et. al., you are correct: I would hate to see them forced out. They have chosen, for now, to tear the communion apart by remaining.

What troubles me so, however, is the language of hate being attributed to the Anglican Communion because of the likes of Akinola, Orombi and others. They failure to abide their faith in peaceful, supporting and loving opposition is the problem. I don't know how we deal with that part.

Amie said...

I am reading Walter Winks' "Engaging the Powers". I had heard of his understanding of Jesus' "Third Way" a few years ago. It is good to be able to see it in the context in which it is written.

Those who are defying their leaders are exposing the system's 'violence' - certainly as expressed in the threat of discipline. Those attending are showing great courage and faith and the response of their leaders is only leading to a public shaming of themselves.

I shall keep the bishops attending in my prayers as they might very well need strong support when they return home. I wonder if there is a way monitoring what happens when they return so that bringing the response to the light may temper the severity of it.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

June Butler said...

Yes, we must pray for all of the bishops, but especially for the 12 courageous bishops from Africa who went to Lambeth despite their primates' boycott of the conference.

Amie said...

Ruth Gledhill has reported

"The only Nigerian bishop to register for Lambeth, Cyril Okorocha, Bishop of Owerri, has fled Britain and gone back home for fear of 'reprisals', a source has told The Times." (Quote taken from The Lead at Episcopal Cafe).

Doesn't say much good for the atmosphere to which he is returning. Special prayers ascending for him today as he returns home.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

June Butler said...

How sad. Fear of "reprisals". May God be with him.

Doorman-Priest said...

And this is Christianity is it?

I think Ghandi was right.

"I like your Christianity. I don't like your Christians." or words to that effect.

Malcolm+ said...

From Ruth's piece, it appears that Bishop Okarocha's departure wasn't just about fear of reprisals to himself, but fear about the safety of his family in Nigeria.

This is beyond appalling.

But we have seen yet again that the Global South is not so monolithic and monochromatic as it claims to be.

- The hardliners have already alienated conservatives like Bishop Dawani in Jerusalem, Primate Anis of the Middle East, theologian Michael Poon.

- We have seen bishops defying Akinola of Nigeria, Kolini of Rwanda and Nzimbi of Kenya.

- The "conservatives" in Central Africa are in a panic, refusing to ratify the episcopal election in one diocese because the candidate is not "sound," refusing to allow the election in another diocese to go forward, nor the election of a new primate, because they do not believe they can control the results.

The very fact that they are boycotting Lambeth reflects their own realization that their coup d'eglise has failed. You do not leave the playing field when you are winning.

As Anne Marie says, especial prayers for Bishop Okarocha, and for his wife and family.

Tim Chesterton said...

Prayers for everyone involved would be in order, and Christlike, I think, Malcolm. As C.S. Lewis says in the introduction to Mere Christianity, 'If they are your enemies, you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house'.

Malcolm+ said...

Absolutely, Tim. In calling for especial prayers for Bishop Okorocha and his family (as we woould for any family who felt a particular danger), I do not intend to negate my earlier call to pray for all the bishops of the Communion - both those who came and those who did not come.