LAGOS: Dr. Williams barely survives no-confidence vote at CAPA meeting
Church of England Newspaper
In a move that foreshadows political trouble for the Archbishop of Canterbury at the February meeting of the Primates in Ulster, Dr Rowan Williams narrowly survived a vote of no confidence at last month’s Africa Anglican Bishops Conference.
Gathered in Lagos, Nigeria from October 26 to November 1 for the first all-Africa conference of Anglican Bishops, over 250 bishops from 12 of the Communion’s 38 Provinces discussed the social, political and economic difficulties plaguing the continent in a gathering that the organisers saw as the “coming of age” of the Church in Africa.
Thirteen months ago, sources in the Nigerian Church tell us, Dr Williams was invited to attend the conference but declined citing scheduling conflicts. This past summer a second invitation was extended to Dr Williams, who again declined pleading poverty, saying his travel budget for the year had been expended and Canon Herman Browne, Dr Williams’ assistant for Anglican Communion affairs was dispatched instead.
Angered by the perceived snub to the Anglican Churches of Africa, a motion was put forward at the conference that sought to “censure” Dr Williams for his absence. Following a prolonged debate on October 28, the chairman of the day’s session, Bishop Johanes Seoka of Pretoria, urged the bishops not to act, arguing a rebuke would serve no positive purpose. Two senior bishops then rose to speak asserting that a rebuke would be ill-mannered and was not the African way of resolving conflict.
The matter was put to a vote and the motion defeated by a three-to-two margin.
Dr Williams’ failure to appreciate the response African bishops is the latest in a line of blunders and public relations fiascos that have damaged his personal standing with the overseas church.
Unlike his predecessor, Lord Carey whose popularity and influence was at time stronger abroad than in the Church of England, Dr Williams has yet to build a reservoir of trust among the bishops of the overseas Church, weakening his ability to find a compromise acceptable to all parties within the Communion.
Lambeth Palace offered no comment when queried on the vote this week.
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