Saturday, August 09, 2008

Archbishop Orombi clarifies The Times letter

From Kevin Kallsen at AnglicanTV [boldface mine]:

After The Times newspaper printed a letter from Archbishop [Henry] Orombi [of the Church of Uganda], AnglicanTV contacted His Grace for further clarification. Specifically we wanted to know if the Archbishop was implying he wanted Rowan to resign. Below is Archbishop Orombi's response.

Kevin Kallsen (AnglicanTV): Does your letter in The Times this week imply that you are calling for the resignation of the ABC?

Archbishop Henry Orombi: No. I am not suggesting that the Archbishop of Canterbury should resign. And, for the record, it was The Times (of London) that approached me about writing an essay on why the Church of Uganda Bishops were not attending Lambeth.

It seems to me that the maturing of the global nature of the Anglican Communion, beyond its colonial beginnings, would involve separating the role of the spiritual leader of the Communion from that of the Primate of All England. The Primate of All England should still retain the title primus inter pares, for he does retain a significant place of honour and historical significance. I would not want to diminish that in any way. We are very grateful for the British missionaries who came to us in Uganda and brought to us the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We shall never forget that and never cease giving thanks.

However, I do think it's time to realise that the Anglican Communion is no longer an extension of the Church of England. The Church of England is, of course, free to elect or appoint their Primate in whatever way they deem appropriate. But, should the Primate of All England necessarily or automatically be the spiritual leader of a world-wide, global Communion? That's the question I am asking.

And, may I just add, that I agree with Archbishop Rowan (and others) when he says that "the overwhelming concern of most Africans is clean water, food, employment, transparent governance." To that, I would also add quality education, adequate health services, and freedom from the power of sin and oppression by demonic spirits. We do, in fact, spend much more of our time focused on these issues, along with evangelism, than on homosexuality – despite the imbalance portrayed by the press.

But, what we in the Global South have strongly maintained is this: When you are known to be the "Gay Church" and a church that can't discipline itself, that severely hinders our ability to engage our communities on such issues as clean water, food, employment, and good governance. That is why we must resolve this conflict. It is not a matter that we can "agree to disagree" about homosexuality (and the underlying theology that leads one to the acceptance of homosexuality) and still pursue together the Millennium Development Goals. Our credibility and integrity as a church are seriously undermined because of the lack of resolution of the current crisis. It is not enough to be able to say that the official position of the Anglican Communion is Lambeth 1.10, because the lack of enforcement of that resolution seems to, in fact, render it null and void.

The crisis in the Communion is about authority – biblical authority and ecclesiastical authority. Regrettably, all the proposals coming out of the Windsor Continuation Group have been tried in the past five years and failed. However, even before we begin a re-examination of the Instruments of Communion and, in particular, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, we do have within our structures the ability to bring order out of the present chaos. Sadly, though, the Archbishop of Canterbury missed his biggest window of opportunity. If, in the end, the only means of discipline is through his power of invitation, he has, through his decision to invite the persistent violators of Lambeth 1.10 to the Lambeth Conference, blessed the deviations of the American and Canadian Churches, which have been consistently condemned by the other three Instruments of Communion.

It seems to me that the functions proposed for the Pastoral Forum are exactly what the Primates of the Communion have been charged to do. The 1988 Lambeth Conference urged the Primates' Meeting to "exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters" and the 1998 Lambeth Conference reaffirmed this. Are not Primates, duly elected from the various Provinces, in a better position than a "Commission" or "Forum"? We do not need the proliferation of more groups, committees, commissions, etc. to resolve this crisis. What we need is the enforcement/implementation of matters that have already been widely agreed.

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