The Kigali Communique included the following statement: “At the next meeting of the Primates in February 2007 some of us will not be able to recognize Katharine Jefferts Schori as a Primate at the table with us. Others will be in impaired communion with her as a representative of The Episcopal Church.”
The question of just who signed off on the Kigali Communiqué and what precisely was meant in doing so continues. We know that Archbishop Ndungane of Southern Africa and the Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines have stepped away from some of the language of the Communiqué. They have both affirmed that their churches continue to be in communion with the Episcopal Church and that they welcome the election of Bishop Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop. The constant concerns for economic and social justice continue as part of the ministry of both these Primates, and we can assume that the Kigali concerns for Darfur and other refugees, political stability and various peace processes, upcoming elections, concerns for the spread of AIDS and other diseases, and general economic development met with their support.
Now the Anglican Church of Burundi has posted comments on the Kigali meeting as well: The summary of the Kigali meeting included the following: “Among the issues discussed were the conflict in Sudan, the current situation in the Anglican Communion, the responses to the Windsor Report by The Episcopal Church at their General Convention, along with on-going challenges such as poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, peace building, church planting, and theological education.” There was no editorial comment on the content of discussions.
The Most Reverend Bernard Ntahoturi is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Burundi. He was at the Global South Primates meeting in Kigali, and he had this to say: “While there are differences among us that we must address, it is important that we find ways to move forward together in the work of the Gospel exercising God’s grace and love." The “among us” may mean the Global South Primates themselves or it may mean the “us” of the Anglican Communion. Either way it is a conciliatory phrase which deserves to be noted. In pursuit of that work,
Archbishop Ntahoturi came to the United States for the Summit on Africa, meant to address many of the justice concerns raised in the Kigali and other Communiqués. While here for the Summit, The Archbishop met in New York with both Bishop Griswold and Jefferts Schori on July 17th. That meeting was reported HERE.
So it would appear that the Archbishop of Burundi visited the Church Center, is in conversation with the Presiding Bishop and the Presiding Bishop Elect and has not taken the opportune moment to speak about the Kigali Communiqué’s comments on Anglican Communion issues on his own Provincial website except to note the need to find ways to move forward together.
“Clarifying” comments by Archbishop John Chew on the way in which the Communiqué was drafted were posted on the Global South website. There he simply reported, “Furthermore, a Communique drafting committee chaired by the Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi was unanimously appointed.” Nothing was said about the role of that drafting committee. If they were appointed at this meeting they were working with a draft already in process.
It may well be that the Archbishop is appropriately sensitive to his role as the Communiqué drafting committee and does not feel the need for further comment. On the other hand, if his comment that “there are differences among us that we must address” applied to the Global South Primates, this may signal that there was not the universal agreement claimed by the Kigali Communiqué. It appears from Archbishop Chew’s comments that a draft was presented by a pre-meeting group, went through several versions and the final version was published without signatures or formal vote but rather issued as a communiqué of the 20 Provinces represented at the meeting.
The Archbishop of Burundi’s comments on the Communiqué, given to his own Province, are so bland as to signal a considerable distance from the strident voice of the Communiqué as published, and his presence with the PB and PB elect signal continued good relations with the Episcopal Church.
And then there is this: ENS reported that “Ntahoturi expressed gratitude to the Episcopal Church for the assistance Burundi is receiving from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to fight the spread of Malaria and HIV/AIDS and the part Peace and Justice Ministries played in the building of the peace center in the capital city of Bujumbura.” The Provincial website confirmed this practical ministry done in conjunction with the Episcopal Church, “The Province has gratefully received 16,500 mosquito nets from ERD. They will be distributed in the dioceses of Makamba, Buye, and Muyinga as part of a programme to educate people about malaria and its prevention. Malaria still causes more deaths in Burundi than HIV/AIDS.”
I think the number of Provinces in agreement with the Kigali Communiqué’s comments on the Episcopal Church is less than previously supposed, and perhaps even less than the now remaining seventeen. Now we know that at least three of the Primates do not hold this miserable statement on the Primatial leadership of the Episcopal Church.
But even if the number were one, the fact remains, The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is going to be the Primate of this Church and the remaining Primates who have a problem with that are simply going to have to live into an Anglican Communion that includes her, and us.