Clerics decry ‘colonial’ campaign in choice of new Anglican leader
Posted Saturday, July 14 2012 at 19:12
As intense lobbying continues behind the scenes over who should become the new Archbishop of Canterbury — the spiritual leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion — churches in Africa have expressed their concerns over the process.
Last Sunday, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt warned that many of the estimated 55 million Anglicans across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia and the Americas felt they had “no say” in the process of selecting a successor to Dr Rowan Williams.
African clergy, in particular, have expressed their concern at a ‘whispering’ campaign to ensure that the candidate likely to be most favoured by Anglicans across Africa, Dr John Sentamu, the current Archbishop of York and a former asylum seeker from Uganda under the regime of Idi Amin, is not chosen.
Of particular concern to the Africans is the composition of the selection committee, which is dominated by liberal-leaning British church leaders, and would be unlikely to represent the traditionalist views of most Anglicans overseas, particularly those living in Africa.
Already pressure is being brought to bear on representatives of the 16-member Crown Nominations Commission who will make the decision to recommend to UK Prime Minister David Cameron who should become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
The only person on the CNC representing the non-English members of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, who is known for his liberal stance on issues of sexuality.
Dr Anis told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that while he “loves and respects” Dr Morgan, his nationality was relevant. “Sadly, this gives the impression that the voice of the Anglican Communion outside England is not counted as being important,” he said.
Dr Anis, who is the Primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, went on: “It is giving the impression that we don’t own it at all — it is all something somehow run from England. It would be acceptable in the 19th Century but not now … It is a colonial approach.”
The head of Nigerian Anglican Church Nicholas Okoh said that Dr Williams, who steps down from his post in December, had divided a once happy family.
“He is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarised, bitterly factionalised, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness.”
St Paul’s University vice chancellor Prof Joseph Galgalo, an Anglican priest, feels that Dr Sentamu stands a good chance of taking over.
“He has very balanced views especially on the issues that divide the church,” Prof Galgalo told the Sunday Nation.
Supporters of John Sentamu, the Ugandan-born cleric, who was the early favourite to become Archbishop of Canterbury, have also said his campaign is being undermined by racist critics.
A series of reports in the UK press quoted a senior bishop criticising Dr Sentamu as “quite tribal and the African chief thing comes through”.
Dr Sentamu, who is currently Archbishop of York, has five main rivals for the new position.