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RWANDA: The Anglican Communion Will Never be the Same Again

An interview with the Primate of Rwanda, The Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini

By David W. Virtue


VIRTUOSITY: Is the “fix” in? Did Frank Griswold ordain Robinson with a “wink and a nod” from the Archbishop of Canterbury?

KOLINI: Here it is out of Griswold’s own mouth. “One of the things the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams made very clear to me in our conversation is that he is not authorized to overrule the canons and constitutions of the various provinces of the Anglican Communion.”

VIRTUOSITY: Can the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA Frank Griswold stop what is happening to the Anglican Communion?

KOLINI: The new scheme has already started. What has been happening cannot be stopped or slowed. It is a new day. It is a new church like it or not. Some may see it as being on the horizon but it is right here. The Anglican Communion and the ECUSA is never going to be the same again. The journey has begun.

VIRTUOSITY: Is the Anglican Mission in America part of the new order? Can you define the new order?

KOLINI: The Lord is doing his own work. A new orthodoxy is being born. It is a journey from all over. It is not just the Anglican Communion but of many denominations. The Lord is at work in a different way across denominations.

VIRTUOSITY: Will there be a Primates' meeting this year?

KOLINI: No, not this year. We will meet next year because the Eames Commission meets in March first then in September/October. They will report to the Primates meeting next year.

VIRTUOSITY: Are you in broken communion with the Episcopal Church now?


VIRTUOSITY: If Griswold is invited to the next Primates meeting will you and your fellow African bishops attend.

KOLINI: If he repents that can change. If he comes and he is not repentant then we shall look into that.

VIRTUOSITY: Will you participate in the Eucharist with him?

KOLINI: If I break bread with him it is like breaking bread with many nominal Christians. It is an issue of tolerance.

VIRTUOSITY: Do you see the Anglican Communion falling apart and becoming a federation?

KOLINI: I do not see it becoming a federation.

VIRTUOSITY: How long will talk of homosexual acceptance continue among the Primates?

KOLINI: We are no longer talking about homosexuality. The issue is the gospel. Is Jesus the only way for our salvation? Is Scripture the supreme authority that governs the church?

VIRTUOSITY: How has the acceptance of homosexuality hurt evangelism among Muslims in the Global South?

KOLINI: It has not only hurt evangelism to Muslims, it has hurt our ministry, and it has hurt Christianity itself.

VIRTUOSITY: Have you lost many members over the issue?

KOLINI: No, but we are ridiculed in the pulpits, in the streets and we have been put on the defensive side. We have to tell people continually that we are not a part of that kind of thinking, it is shameful. It is very hard for us.

I have to tell Africans that we are not part of that, yet we still belong to the same communion.

VIRTUOSITY: As you look at the ECUSA and what the Anglican Communion leadership is saying, what is your response?

KOLINI: We said at Lambeth and in Nairobi, and with the CAPA bishops and the Global South that there are not two sexual alternatives. There is only one; and the other calls for repentance. It is repentance or nothing. New wine cannot be poured into the old wineskins of ECUSA.

Does that mean we don’t understand what we are saying today? I am not a puppet or growing into a new understanding of each other, as Griswold is fond of saying. We know what we are saying.

Ultimately it is not about homosexuality. Genocide and immorality is the same. The gospel is to transform mankind and our fallen natures. The gospel is to make us into the image of God and his likeness. It cannot be something else.

VIRTUOSITY: Do you think that Peter Akinola, the Nigerian Primate can be held back before the Eames Commission can complete its work?

KOLINI: The report is not a paper, it is about people's lives. The statement stands for what? It is not a pastoral statement, it is people lives. I don't know what he will do.

VIRTUOSITY: Does it bode ill for Griswold if he doesn’t repent?

KOLINI: I was sharing [this] with the people. I am like the disciple who stepped out of the boat and into the waves, crying out for Jesus to save me. I have hope in God, but I am not sure what will happen. I have taken my stand and I stand by that. I can't betray my people or my church and I cannot betray the Faith and the faithful.

VIRTUOSITY: Do you still believe the formation of the Anglican Mission in America was the right way to go?

KOLINI: I heard the cry of the people in 1999 and so we responded to that cry of the people to establish something, and the Anglican Mission is what happened. We vowed we would never desert the people, we responded and it was right. The new wineskins is what I have received. We have made new wine, the AMIA is a pioneer and it is the wineskins here in the US, and it is the new wineskins for us.

VIRTUOSITY: Thank you Archbishop.

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