Rwandan House of Bishops Urge Conciliar Process to Resolve Anglican Crisis
Bishops say Covenant has failed
By David W. Virtue in Entebbe
August 29, 2010
The House of Bishops of the Province of Rwanda has sent a dispatch to the All African Bishops Conference (CAPA) meeting in Entebbe calling for new "effective structures" to meet the "ecclesial deficit" in the Anglican Communion.
The letter brought by the Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini said that despite the blessings here at the CAPA conference, "We the Bishops of Rwanda have great concern about the state of the Anglican Communion and its ongoing disintegration." He described the situation as "acute."
The Rwanda House of Bishops called for a true Communion, united through a conciliar process rather than a separated Federation. "Such a style of leadership would mean a more effective voice and a greater impact in the Communion." They said a Covenant iss inadequate to address the issues.
The Rwandan dispatch said that in order for there to be a renewed Africa there needs to be a renewed Anglican identity and that can be found in the (GAFCON) Jerusalem statement which affirmed the authority of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written; upheld the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church as well as the 39 Articles.
The orthodox African province urged the CAPA bishops to address the numerous doctrinal and ecclesiastical controversies in a manner that forges the way forward for CAPA; foster a clear identity and unity among CAPA Provinces (two provinces Central Africa and Southern Africa are not in accord with CAPA) and insure the strengthening of our structures that are conducive to witness to the Faith and fruit bearing in the Christian community."
In order for Africa to "unlock its potential" a key theme at CAPA, the Rwandan bishops expressed "great concern" about the "ongoing disintegration" of the Anglican Communion and asked "who will stand for a united Anglican voice to bring the Way, Truth and Life in a hindered and divided Church?"
They said that the Anglican witness in Africa suffered because of the "erosion of faith" by Western Anglicans and called on the All African Bishops' Conference to adhere to the Statement on the Global Anglican Future as proposed at GAFCON 2008.
The bishops said that the proposed Covenant cannot deal with the "ecclesial deficit" and that a new structure based in the historic models of the church be set up immediately to resolve these crises.
"Therefore, we propose that there be a provincial jurisdiction birthed by Mother Africa to come together as a true Communion, united through a conciliar process rather than a separated Federation. Such a style of leadership would mean a more effective voice and a greater impact in the Communion."
The bishops said it would be monumental if the CAPA Primates and their bishops would make such a call and show the world that they are ecclesiastical leaders who understand this issue as the key to a real Global Anglican Future and are willing to boldly undertake the responsibility and leadership to begin this work.
The Archbishop of Rwanda first proposed the idea of a Council of church leaders reminiscent of the councils of the Early Church when he was in Singapore at the Fourth Global South to South Encounter.
At that time Kolini called for a new Anglican Ecumenical Council, modeled on the Councils of the Early Church with a constitution taken from the ancient apostolic canons (35 & 38) on how a council should function.
"At this critical time in the life of the Anglican Communion we, the Global South, seek to form a functional movement actively loyal to the historic faith, God's calling and mission of all Anglicans," said Kolini in an address to some 130 delegates to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter.
While drawing back from calling for a full separation from the Anglican Communion led by Dr. Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rwandan archbishop said that a new General Assembly should be formed and should be led by a Primates' Council in accord with a representative General Assembly.
"The Global South should be reconstituted to include all member churches and Dioceses that assent to the Anglican Covenant, and express formal commitment to the Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998, and an agreed statement focusing our aims and strengthening mutual loyalty," said Kolini in a prepared text at that time.
The African Primate proposed a Primates' Council representing all participating members churches would serve as the governing body which would discuss and decide matter s of faith and order, encouragement to mission in submission to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture in loyalty to the Anglican tradition and formularies. An ad hoc design group would be responsible for formulating a constitution.
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