For starters: The Stand Firm posting of the "News Agency Of Nigeria Reporter Issues Retraction of Remarks About Bishop Orama" gives the beginning of that retraction statement as received. Here is the address:
From: Emeka Samuel
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 6:00 AM
The problem is that the News Agency of Nigeria address is not "nannigeria.org" but "nanigeria.org." A nagging small thing, I know, but I have learned to pay attention to these address differences. Scams from all over wanting me to check and make sure my password with Chase is correct end up coming from addresses that are almost, but not quite, the real address.
At the very least it would appear that Emeka Samuel wrote a letter to the agency and they may not have received it. Who put the letter out on the web? At any rate it seems to be the apology of the reporter. Do we presume that the News Agency of Nigeria published the statement? If so, where?
Then there is the now well publicized full address of Bishop Orama. Section G. - which is quoted in full - is as follows:
"G. INAUGURATION OF CANA
The formal inauguration of CANA-Convocation of Anglicans in North America and the enthronement of its pioneer Bishop, Rt. Revd. Martyn Minns took place on 4th May, 2007, at a service presided over by the Primate and Metropolitan of Church of Nigeria, The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola at Hylton Chapel woodbridge, Virginia in the United States of America.
CANA is the offshoot of the Church of Nigeria's response to the unbiblical agenda of the Episcopal Church of United States of America in supporting same sex marriage and consecrating in the year 2003 the publicly acknowledged gay priest V. Gene Robinson as bishop.
The aim of CANA, in the words of the Primate of Church of Nigeria, The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinolais "to provide a safe place for those who wish to remain faithful Anglicans but can no longer do so within the Episcopal Church. The Primate was assisted by the following bishops of Church of Nigeria, Rt. Revd. Emmanuel Chukwuma(Enugu); Rt. Revd. Benjamin Kwashi(Jos); Rt. Revd. Ignatius Kattey, (NDDN); Rt. Revd. EdafeEmameri(Western Izon). The chairman of board of trustees of CANA, Barr. Abraham Yisawas also in attendance."
In the midst of a long synod report from the bishop (reminding me of many I have sat through) all sorts of things got mentioned, and this particular section was boiler plate lifted I believe from earlier press releases. It is remarkable only in its details of the event.
The mantra "to provide a safe place for those who wish to remain faithful Anglicans but can no longer do so within the Episcopal Church" made it into the reporter's now repudiated article. So the reporter was not quite off the mark. In the news article it came out, "to provide a safe place for those who want to remain faithful Anglicans and Biblical Christians.'' Close enough.
In sum: We have in hand a reporter's apology, but nothing saying where it came from. It is written to NAN but the address is off. NAN, as far as I know, has said nothing. UPI has pulled the story. So much for that.
Of course if Kendall Harmon, Stand Firm, Fr. Jake, Susan Russell, others and I had not objected the story would have stood. As it is it no doubt got printed out there and fed the fires where it was most useful.
What is needed is a print retraction from UPI or from NAN that would be read by the same people who read the first article. Otherwise Bishop Orama's name is besmirched and the misquotes stand as the words of a church leader.
I am not holding my breath.
Most of this is now worth letting go of, save one thing: It turns out that such articles serve their purpose whether or not they are later retracted and whether or not everybody does a fancy two-step back from actually supporting the hate statements in it.
Apology is not what is needed. What is needed is a complete conversion of what was printed. Bishop Orama is reported to have denied what the reporter wrote. The reporter stated,"Also, speaking on the recent publication on the internet about an homophobic statement attributed to him in his recent synod address, Rt. Revd. Isaac Orama lamented over what he called a false statement published on the internet and called on the media to desist from publishing wrong statements for public consumption." Again, the Bishop did not issue a statement. A reporter reported on one.
Bishop Orama, in a moment of graciousness, might well have said, "I am absolutely aghast at what was reported. It was reported that I said, ""Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man.'' "To the contrary, I believe that homosexuals - gay and lesbian persons - are, as we all, fully human and fully loved by God. They are children of God and fully to be respected as such. They are not insane or satanic, and whatever their sin they are fit to live by the same Grace that finally saves us all, the Grace of God." He could have said all that and been in total accord with Lambeth, Windsor, and maybe even the Gospels.
I know he could have done such a brave thing, because he did something I wish more of our bishops could do in their synod meetings. He said the following:
" 20.GLOBAL CONCERN(A)THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
The war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was supposed to be the war against terrorists, has become long drawn with no end in sight. This is of concern, in a world that has seen too much war. Left in the hands of the American Government we might not be able to find a solution soon. I therefore call on the United Nation to step in to this problem and find a way of using neutral armies to settle the political situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(B) Another Arms Race?
The recent utterance between Washington and Moscow is sounding like we are going back to the cold war years. Washington wants to deploy"defense"missiles in Poland and Moscow has developed new long-range missiles.We call on the advanced world not to take us back to the era of arms race again. This world has seen enough of destruction of life and property because of people who want to advance their economic interests.
(C) Global Warming
Environmental Scientists are warning of the climatic change thatis occuringin the world. It is called Global Warming. At first, we made fun of it, thinking that they must be exaggerating.However, with the increasing heat and flooding that is occurring every where we ought to take the matter of global warming seriously.We all must do our little in reducing green house gas emission,the use of fossil fuel, etc, so that the world climate does not turn against us. "
There is the kind of bravery in a synod speech that has power. This is not boiler plate. This is telling the truth as well as he can.
Bishop Orama may or may not have said what the reporter wrote. I suspect probably not. But the reporter served ends quite different from that of Bishop Orama in his synod speech. He did not pick up on the bishops words about war and the arms race and global warming. He picked up on the news...and the news was in this case words to support the hate mongering already available against gay and lesbian persons. Perhaps he thought he was doing a service to the church and country. Who knows?
Bishop Orama may have a bright future in the church. His synod reports could be shorter, he must find his own voice on public issues, and, he could do with better press coverage.