9/25/2006

Southern Africa speaks, will more follow?

The Global South leadership posted the Kigali Communiqué, a document which will haunt its authors for some time to come. It was not two days old before one of the Primates whose Province was signature to the document distanced himself and the Province from much of its content and denied that he or his assistant had seen or approved the document. Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane’s statement is both powerful and revealing. For an important commentary on the text of the Archbishop’s letter in response to the Communique, go to the Daily Episcopalian, “..and the lying liars who tell them.”

The inappropriate attribution of sponsorship here is a repeat of the scandal of the letter from the Third South to South meeting in Egypt to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Before it was over it became apparent that several Provinces had not signed off on the document. I wrote on this mismanaged communiqué in an essay “And Then There Were Thirteen.”
In it I said, commenting on the misuse of attribution, “None of this would be of much importance if it did not signal several things: (i) a bit of disarray in the management of things by the administration of the Global South meeting; (ii) at least misleading and perhaps false advertising of the unanimous action of the Primates present at the Encounter; and (iii) rudeness and exclusionary activity on several fronts that on the face of it support the charge that the South to South Encounter has indeed determined that it will discriminate against those whose theological views its leadership find wanting.

The Province of Southern Africa found itself excluded from the work up of the letter to the Archbishop then, and finds itself again excluded now. The Archbishop of the Province of Southern Africa found himself once again having to issue a response to the someting written by some persons and attributed to the Global South Primates or Provincial Reprsentatives once again. He said,

“I wish to offer this clarification of the position of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, in light of the potentially misleading impression that our Province has endorsed the Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting. Whereas Canon Livingstone Ngewu and I were present in Kigali, neither of us were made aware even of the possibility of a communiqué in the name of the Primates of the Global South, prior to its release... To me, at least, it appears in places that there is a hidden agenda, to which some of us are not privy.”


The leadership of the Global South group consists of the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria as President, the Rt. Rev’d John Chew, Bishop of Singapore as General Secretary, assisted by the Venerable Oluranti Odubogun and Canon (now Bishop) Martyn Minns, and the Rt. Rev’d Mouneer Anis as Treasurer. That leadership has once again produced a document that is flawed in its claim to be the work of the “Global South” Primates.

Several days ago I wondered about the presence of Bishop Minns at the Global South Primates meeting. Someone was kind enough to remind me that he was there as part of the Global South Secretariat. But that is not finally all, it appears.

A news item from the Church of Nigeria, written at the time of the formation of this leadership group, noted, “The Primate’s particular interest in acknowledging the presence of Canon Martyn Minns, Vicar Truro Church, Fairfax Virginia and a leading cleric opposed to same sex union in the United States, affirmed the campaign of the Church in providing spiritual alternatives to Anglican faithfuls abroad. Canon Minns was described as a major catalyst in the formation of churches styled under the regulations and canons of the Church Of Nigeria.”

Matters were well underway at that time to push Canon Minns into the center of the effort to establish a beachhead for a new province in America. It was not clear then, and I don’t think now, that the new Province was going to be grounded in the Anglican Communion Network or in the work of CANA, but the new communiqué leaves no doubt that either way the Archbishop of Nigeria and his new bishop, Martyn Minns are at the center of the whirlwind.


I wrote at the time, “Canon Minns has been in the mix from the beginning and his presence in Egypt and his being brought into the core group of this new organization will be central to the communications between this group and the Network, of which Canon Minns is a part.” Well Bishop Minns was present at this meeting (he is still part of the Secretariat) and he is still a spokesperson for the Network ect.


His is not the only voice bringing news from the West. I understand the Archbishop of West Africa was in the United States and had conversations in Pittsburgh prior to the meeting in Kigali.

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane also had something to say concerning influence from the United States that was quite revealing:

“I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States. This flies in the face of the experience of those of us who are steeped in black and post-colonial theology, the theology of liberation, and black consciousness. It is hard to understand why we continue to act in response to the North to such a great extent, rather than making use of our freedom to concentrate our energies on the priorities of our own people and Provinces.”

He was too polite.

He is less polite when he says,
“We must also be careful to avoid creating, in effect, episcopi vagantes. This is a difficult and complex area, which Resolution 35 of the Lambeth Conference of 1920 addressed when it said ‘The territorial Episcopate has been the normal development in the Catholic Church, but we recognise that differences of race and language sometimes require that provision should be made in a Province for freedom of development of races side by side; the solution in each case must be left with the Province, but we are clear that the ideal of the one Church should never be obscured.’ In our time too, we must do all that we can not to obscure that ideal of the one Church.”

Here the Archbishop is speaking directly to the problem presented in the consecration of Bishop Minns. He is “in effect, episcope vagantes.” Bishop Minns is a wandering bishop: he is ordained for the missionary work of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, CANA, but he is not bishop of a diocese, he is not the Bishop of CANA, for there is as yet no constituted diocese. He is wandering around gathering congregations as he may.

And, it appears, he is wandering off to Kigali where with other members of the Global South administration, he is allowing documents to be presented to the world with ascription of the approval of Primates without their actually approving. He is also, it would appear, the close at hand contact with the Anglican Communion Network, helpful to the “inordinate influence from the United States.”


Bishop Minns is indeed a bishop, and all respect to him in that. At the same time he was not elected by or responsible to any body of believers here in the United States. He is a wanderer, he is not a star.

Fr. Jake, always on the move, has an interesting parallel to this note.

7 comments:

  1. Richard III25/9/06 11:43 AM

    Why is Mr. Minns still in the Episcopal Church? It appears obvious where his loyalties lie.

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  2. Shouldn't that be episcopos vagante?

    In any case, I do think Bishop Minns is pretty well separating himself from the Episcopal Church. God bless Bishop Lee for trying, but I don't think he's been left much room for any sort of "mutual respect."

    I did have one question myself. The communique leaned heavily in references to the Network. I find myself wondering what this says about the petition from Rwanda and AMiA for Archbishop Akinola to step out now, and not wait for Lambeth, or a covenant, or anything else.

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  3. Marshall said: "Shouldn't that be episcopos vagante?" I thought so too, but was quoting the Archbishop. Archbishops trump village dwellers every time, particularly when quoted.

    Perhaps too it has to do with bishop singular rather than bishop plural.

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  4. Marshall: On your second point...this is all the more reason for thinking the hand of Bishop Minns in behind it all.

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  5. It does indeed have to do with singulars and plurals. Episcopi vagantes is plural. The singular is episcopus vagans. I knew all that Latin would come in useful sometime.

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  6. Justin Lewis-Anthony26/9/06 4:20 AM

    Therefore, rather than "Bishop" Minns, wouldn't it be more accurate, and respectful (at least to Anglican ecclesiology) to refer to him as "EV Minns"?

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  7. I agree with the statements made here on Minns. And a part of me, sad to say, wishes that if certain people were so hell bent on leaving they would just shut up and do so. The more troubling thing is the situation from the Global South, but I think they will be exposed for the hateful, small minority they truly are.

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