5/04/2007

It's in the mail...

Several letters have been sent to the Archbishop of Nigeria asking him not to come to Virginia and install Bishop Minns: one from the Archbishop of Canterbury and one from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. At this point it seems that the installation is going on as planned.

This "installing" business is a two sided coin: on the one hand it is about Bishop Minns and his being bishop for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, on the other hand it is about CANA being established "on the ground." The first is the occasion of the second. Archbishop Akinola's presence would be, then, to both install and establish. This is bad news for the Anglican Communion since what is not needed if there is to be any peace in Anglican-land is new establishmentarian antics. It takes realignment to a whole new level.

The whole thing is an ecclesiological mess. So much so that even some conservatives have voiced concerns that this is schismatic. The smiling Moderator, aka "the future of Anglicanism", is going and he has rightly pointed out that CANA is part of the Common Cause Partners that is a Network scheme. He is working to assure his folk that “CANA has made it quite clear they desire to be a partner, not a competitor, in the ongoing realignment of Anglicanism here. I intend to take them at their word and join them in mission and ministry whenever and wherever possible." We shall see.

The letters were mailed, but one assumes they were also e-mailed and / or faxed. At the same time, because it is not made clear that these are simultaneously sent electronically the receiver can claim not to have received them. Lack of information as to just how the letter was communicated leaves the receiver with a moment of advantage.

Archbishop Akinola begain his letter by saying, "My attention has been drawn to your letter of April 30th ostensibly written to me but published on the Episcopal News Service website." He is claiming, it would appear, that he hadn't gotten the letter himself. What, no email, no faxed copy?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a letter as well. Again, one assumes that it did not go by snail mail alone. Depending on when it was written, time is of the essence.

It does appear that this letter is of very recent vintage. The letter only came to light on Friday, May 4th, for an event to be held the next day. It might have been written anytime in the past several weeks, but my guess is it was not written until after the Presiding Bishop's letter, and perhaps as late as a day or two ago.

The whole point to such letters is to get them out and public as soon as possible so that there is a press for a response. Unless, of course, the writer only wants to appear to have voiced concern but actually doesn't need to take matters further.

Early announcement of the Installation did not, I believe, include the fact that Archbishop Akinola was to preside. When it became clear that he was going to celebrate this occasion, the letters began - first the Presiding Bishop's to the Archbishop of Nigeria, then Bishop Lee's to the diocese concerning the Installation, and now the Archbishop of Canterbury's letter.

There is no reason why the Archbishop William's letter might not have been written sooner, made public, and put genuine pressure on Archbishop Akinola. As it is it seems too little too late.

The ABC has written, great. But what good is a letter whose content is not known and whose power to persuade is so enfeebled by tardiness? It makes me wonder if the Focus of Unity is unwilling or unable to see clearly. Perhaps the FoU is asleep at the wheel. Still, that is better than the possibility that he too is using the double edge sward of snail mail and electronic communications to his advantage.

Well, nothing is hidden that shall not be revealed. That's a fact.


3 comments:

  1. Mark - Akinola says "My attention has been drawn to your letter of April 30th ostensibly written to me but published on the Episcopal News Service website."

    Might he not be saying "I did read the letter you say was to me but you thought should be published for all to see instead"?

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  2. On this matter of the ABC's letter being to little too late. Akinola drew a line in the sand and publicly challenged the PB, Bishop Lee and the ABC to try and stop him. His coming is an affront to the WR which the ABC has held forth as the way forward without wavering. Does the ABC want to have a showdown with Akinola over this, right now? That's not how the ABC sees himself and he's said so. Now as the head of the CoE he might, but not as the ABC. So no timely public rebuke - but rather a quiet, long suffering principled stand. As always, the ABC will look to the other Primates to make of this event what they will. But that doesn't mean he hasn't taken offense at Akinola, is weary of him and considers his actions to be schismatic. Nor does it mean that other Primates won't be emboldened by the AB having taken a stance, and pull back from so easily following the dictates of Akinola.

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  3. My experience is that all of +Peter's letters communiques etc were immediately released on the Cof N website. This was certainly true of his letter to +Katharine. It was iroinic to me that he "objected" so resoundingly to its "release" to ENS, maybe through the leak to the New York Times but immediately put his response on CofN. But, Tunde apparently has not made the ABC's letter to +Akinola public. Given the PR awareness of the CofN (+Akinola's earned degree is an MTS), if the letter could have been cast by anyone (even the faithful in Nigeria), as reflecting anything positive on +Akinola, it would have been. I suspect it was a pretty strongly worded reprimand. Admittedly, +Peter doesn't give a hoot about the ABC (viz 2005 changes in Nigerian constitution) And I suspect Rwanda (based on "Petition to 3rd Global Anglican South to South Leadership and Primates Advisory Group) feels the same way. But what "bonds of affection" remain in the rest of Africa? It seems that, for some, +Peter has overstepped in tne past claiming he represents them when he doesn't (on unity, see the Petition noted above) t? Do they want +Peter setting up shop in their territory if he decides that, according to his reading of scripture, they might be out of line and, again in accordance with his read of scripture, require his intervention?

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