Updated with text of letter. To read it, click on Read more at the end of this report or go direct to the letter here.
A report about a letter from some bishops of the provinces of Central Africa and South Africa to the other bishops who attended the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa meeting has been floating around the internet for a few days. We haven't published it previously because we were unable to verify it, but now, courtesy of Anglican Information, we have. Their version follows, but first two sentences about the significance of this document: it ends the myth that a monolithic Africa has turned against the Episcopal Church and embraced the Anglican Church in North America, and it makes clear that some African bishops are irritated by the way in which schismatic North Americans have inserted themselves into the affairs of Anglican Africa.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports: Some good news at last of courageous action on the part of the Bishops of the Central African Anglican Province. This follows on last week’s meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), the second all Africa Bishops’ Conference*.
A widely leaked letter from the Provinces of Central Africa and South Africa has bravely resisted the schismatic tendencies encouraged at the Conference by breakaway Anglican groups in the United States for a disassociation with the official parent body the American Episcopal Church (TEC).
The letter reads: ‘We are mindful that the Anglican Communion is under severe strain because of certain actions taken by the Episcopal Church (TEC)…we are therefore sympathetic to the deep hurt and pain and indeed anger that some Province in Africa have expressed … [but] we do not support ACNA’s (the Anglican Church of North America, a schismatic breakaway grouping in dubious relationship with some Provinces) position for legitimacy through the elimination of TEC.’
‘The majority of African Provinces at this Conference (the Conference was dominated numerically by Nigeria and Uganda) are being ambushed … we have come to the Conference to share ideas on critical issues in the development of our continent and provide spiritual leadership for our people … CAPA must not be used as a pawn in battles it is not party to.’
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that the Central African Bishops have stood up to what was an underlying intimidatory environment in Entebbe where dissident American factions sought to export their North American wars and fight them in proxy form on African soil.
The letter represents a significant and bold step that could at last result in a re-emergence of some common sense where the Anglican tradition of dialogue between Provinces reasserts itself in the whole Anglican Communion. This is a welcome development.
The Central and South African letter appeals for traditional communion and conversation amongst Anglicans. This instead of the exported mutual anathematising that has been characteristic of the so-called Anglican Church of North America.
Unmistakably the ACNA agenda is for the breakup of the Anglican Communion and the surreptitious gathering up of African Provinces under their (the ACNA’s)effective oversight and control. This is neither an attractive nor a Christian project and it is certainly not Anglican.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION says: Thank God some Africans have at last had the courage to stand up to what is effectively a new imperialism conducted by opportunist and schismatic Americans
There are still unanswered questions about this letter, such as who signed it and what does the rest of it say. We are hoping to learn more within the next few days.
TEXT OF LETTER
We are gathered here for the All Africa Bishops Conference, Entebbe, Uganda 23 -29 August 2010; at a critical time in the life of the Anglican Church in Africa and the wider Anglican Communion. We hold dear the gift of the Anglican Communion and its Institutions with the Archbishop of Canterbury as our head. We seek to preserve its traditions.
We are grateful to God for the theme of this Conference: Securing the Future: Unlocking our Potential (Hebrew 12: 1-2). The purpose of which is to be pro-active in addressing the ills that beset Africa such as poverty, wars, bad governance, HIV and AIDS, and, environmental issues. The focus of this Conference is therefore about making the Anglican Church in Africa relevant in this context.
We are mindful that the Anglican Communion is under severe strain because of certain actions taken by the Episcopal Church, TEC by their ordination of openly gay bishops.
TEC’s recent action of consecrating an openly lesbian person as a bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles against a moratorium in the Communion of consecrating openly gay bishops reflected a gross insensitivity to the feelings of the rest of the Communion.
We are therefore sympathetic to the deep hurt and pain and indeed anger that some Provinces in Africa have expressed. Notwithstanding, the impression being created at the Conference that all Provinces in Africa are of one mind to abandon our relationship with TEC is wrong. Painful as the action is it should not become the presenting issue to lead to the break- up of our legacy and this gift of God- the world wide Anglican Communion.
We recognize that all the Provinces and dioceses in Africa do not condone TEC’s action. However, Provinces differ in their relationships with TEC in light of their actions. Some Provinces continue to value their historical partnerships with TEC and its organs. To discard these relationships would be tantamount to abandoning our call of the gospel to struggle with each other’s failure as we journey with Christ in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation as we were passionately reminded by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, of the virtue of tolerance and to live with our rich diversity.
In pursuit of its objective to form a new “province” in North America, ACNA has been successful in bringing together most of the splinter groups within the Anglican tradition.
We recognize that the common factor that holds all the coalition partners of ACNA is TEC. We do not support ACNA’s position for legitimacy through the elimination of TEC.
Three of the Instruments of Unity have already stated their position on the matter and we believe they represent the mind of the vast majority of the Communion including CAPA.
The majority of the African Provinces at this Conference are being ambushed by an agenda that is contrary to the beliefs and practices of our various Provinces. We have come to this Conference to share ideas on critical issues in the development of our continent and provide spiritual and moral leadership for our people.
Any thought of abandoning our Communion with any member of the body will hurt; for when one part of the body is injured the whole suffers. CAPA must not be used as a pawn in battles it is not party too. CAPA as you all know is not an organ of the Anglican Communion but a fellowship of Provinces of Africa. Therefore, issues of doctrine are better addressed as it has always been by individual provinces.