The Primates of the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa meet

The Primates of the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) met in Nairobi on 14 April 2004. They issued a press statement which said, in regard to the sexuality issues:

“We continue to affirm Lambeth resolution 1.10 of 1998 and our statement of the last CAPA meeting as well as the Primates statement of October 2003.

We are committed to prayerful support for the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams and his leadership to the Communion in this very difficult time. We also pray and support the Lambeth Commission set by him to study the appropriate actions towards those in ECUSA who ignored the Primates’ warnings and violated the historical faith and order of the Church by consecrating a non-celibate openly homosexual priest as Bishop.

We appeal to the Commission to consider the serious implications of not taking strong disciplinary action against ECUSA, which will definitely tear the Communion apart and will badly affect our ecumenical and interfaith relations as a Communion.

The Primates of CAPA reaffirm the statement that was issued in September last year.

We note that some Provinces have already taken action in declaring broken Communion with ECUSA as an institution, while maintaining communion with individuals who have stayed away from the official position of ECUSA.

Some Provinces have impaired communion with ECUSA.

The Commission is requested to call ECUSA to repentance giving it a three-month period to show signs of such repentance. Failing that, discipline should be applied.

As CAPA Primates we stand firm to what we have decided that if there is no sign of repentance on the part of ECUSA, the consequences will determine the next line of action.

UK press reports of meeting

The UK press reported the meeting as intensifying the threat to the unity of the worldwide Anglican communion and increasing pressure on Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by insisting that the US Episcopal Church must be disciplined within three months unless it “repents” for electing a gay bishop. Their demand pre-empts the meetings of the commission set up last October, which is not due to report until the October at the earliest.

The archbishops at a meeting were mainly from central and equatorial Africa. They have been among those most antagonistic towards homosexuality. They insisted, however, that breaking away from the worldwide Anglican communion was not an option. Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, chairman of Capa, said: “If we suffer for a while to gain our independence and our freedom and to build ourselves up, I think it will be a good thing for the church in Africa. “We will not on the altar of money mortgage our conscience, mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation … God has put in our own continent all it takes to be self-reliant.” He insisted that the hard-line stance was accepted by Archbishop Winston Ndungane of Cape Town, hitherto the only African primate to have opposed the repudiation of gays.

African leaders refuse US Episcopalian money

US Episcopalians have doubted that, for all the rhetoric, African church leaders would refuse American money, which provides significant funding for their activities. Archbishop Akinola himself accepted $80,000 last year to help build the Capa headquarters in Nairobi, and sent a representative to a US diocesan convention earlier this year. Before yesterday’s decision a US church spokesman said: “These guys are grandstanding. They keep vilifying us but they keep seeking the benefits of an ongoing relationship. “It’s a great gig – you get to look courageous without taking any sort of risk.”

The decision to insist on the Episcopal Church’s “repentance” dramatically raises the stakes as the gap between the liberal western church, which is in numerical decline, and the burgeoning Anglican communion in the developing world, which now accounts for more than half the church’s 77m adherents, grows wider. The rift is likely to become even greater when the Canadian Anglican church takes its expected decision to authorise same sex blessing services at its synod in Niagara at the end of next month.

The African church leaders have worked closely for a number of years with conservative Evangelicals in England and traditionalist Episcopalians in the US, who are also opposed to the liberalisation of the traditional Biblical attitudes to homosexuals.

U.S. dioceses and parishes have partnerships with churches in Africa and give money directly to them. However, dioceses also provide funds for the donations that the U.S. national church sends to Africa, said Canon Patrick Mauney, director of Anglican and Global Relations for the U.S. Episcopal Church. Mauney didn’t know whether the African leaders were aware of this. “It’s hard to parse this statement and to figure out are there any loopholes here or what,” said Jim Naughton, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Several church leaders expressed doubt that the very poor African provinces would reject all U.S. church funding. Mauney said that eight of the 10 African provinces that receive an annual donation from the Episcopal Church have taken the money so far. Mauney added that no missionaries had been rejected in the year that the dispute has raged over Robinson. “I suspect they’re looking for a symbolic way to say we’re unhappy,” Mauney said of the African leaders.

But Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi indicated that the Africans were committed to giving up significant sources of funding. Nzimbi said links with Trinity Wall Street in New York had to be severed, for example. The prominent parish distributes grants in the millions of dollars worldwide and supports many projects in Africa.

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