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NIGERIA: Primate Blasts New Anglican Communion Appointment - WORLD EXCLUSIVE


World Exclusive

By David W. Virtue

ABUJA, NIGERIA (7/30/2004)--The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria has written a scathing letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury blasting the appointment of the new general secretary for the Anglican Consultative Council, Irish-born Canon Kenneth Kearon.

In a stiffly worded letter to Dr. Rowan Williams and all the Primates and Moderators of the Anglican Communion, The Most Revd. Peter Akinola wrote saying he was "disappointed at the action that fails to take cognizance of the feelings and yearnings of those of us in the global south."

"You will recall that when the Primates met in a private session at the Primates' Meeting, Gramado, Brazil, I expressed the view of many of us with regards to how the ACC secretariat was staffed."

The Primates have been deeply suspicious of outgoing general secretary Canon John Peterson for his liberal views that have sidelined them in favor of Western pro pansexualist primates like ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. The Global South Primates have wanted an orthodox leader of the Anglican Communion Office that reflected more their views.

In his letter to Williams, Akinola said that he asked the Archbishop of Canterbury that when the new global headquarters was being established in Paddington, London, why the staffs so poorly represented the wider Anglican Communion of the South.

"Anytime you see any non-Western face at the Secretariat, he is either an intern or an office errand boy or a copy typist! It is vital that we have staff, at the most senior as well as junior levels, which represent the viewpoint of the Global South of the church," he wrote.

Primate Akinola said that the then ACC chairman; New Zealand Presiding Bishop John Paterson sought to allay our fears and reassured [us] that in future, appointment efforts would be made to erase that impression.

"We see in this latest appointment that nothing has changed and that what we thought and believe to be a world-wide Communion is actually now being portrayed to be no more than "western section communion".

The Nigerian Primate said he had nothing against the person of the man so appointed. "My grouse is with the system that continues to fail to reckon with the fact that this Church and its structure is no longer the exclusive preserve of any section of the western world. You cannot continue to marginalize and treat as irrelevant a very large section of the Anglican Communion and continue to expect that section for which you have no regard to be happy in the fellowship."

Archbishop Akinola tweaked Williams saying, "I hope no one is under the illusion that there are no qualified and competent men and women in the two-thirds world to do this job. This is the Church of God, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

But Virtuosity has learned that the new ACC general secretary's views on homosexuality more closely parallel those of outgoing Canon John Peterson than those of the Global South bishops and Primates.

In an interview last Friday with the BBC in Northern Ireland, Canon Kearon refused to commit himself when pressed for his views on homosexuality. "They wanted me to commit myself on the issue of sexuality, but I refused," he said. "People thought there were simple yes-and-no answers about it, but the deeper you get into it, the more complex the issues are. It really is a painful issue on all sides of the debate."

Canon Kearon said sex had been individualized and commercialized, but the Christian tradition said much about sexuality in relationship that would "resonate with many others". He did not explain what he meant by "many others."

He did not publicly repudiate homosexual behavior, a failure that could rebound on both him and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Global South Bishops and orthodox bishops of the West have publicly repudiated this behavior both at the 1998 Lambeth Conference and in subsequent primatial statements.

Dr Williams has said publicly that he is delighted with the appointment: "Canon Kearon will bring to this post a superb knowledge of the worldwide church and invaluable experience, especially in the field of church and community relationships and in mediation and conflict resolution. He comes at a time when the challenges facing our Communion are enormous and the opportunities for mission great. I look forward to working closely with him in the service of Christ."

NOTE: This story is copyrighted but may be forwarded electronically with reference to VIRTUOSITY and the author. No changes are permitted in the text.


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