Be united and let Jesus smile again, begs Dr Tutu

by
22 August 2007

by Rachel Boulding

THE ARCHBISHOP Emeritus of Cape Town, Dr Desmond Tutu, has made an emotional appeal to the Primates of the Anglican Communion to accept one another, and agree to disagree.

In the open letter sent last week to his successor as Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, he asks all the Primates to put aside their differences in order to deal with the world’s troubles.

He describes how, on a recent retreat: “I felt under considerable divine pressure to address this appeal to you and your fellow Primates.” Referring to Luke 15 and its parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son, he writes: “We are most like this God and God’s Son when we are welcoming and inclusive. It is almost a defining characteristic of God to draw together, to unite. . . Sin, on the contrary, always divides. It is centrifugal by nature. It alienates, separates, like apartheid.”

After referring to unity and fellowship as “a gift from God”, he writes of the “bewildering diversity” of God’s creation: “None is self-sufficient, but all are made for interdependence, each making up what is lacking in the other. In a world where difference has led to alienation and even bloody conflict, the Church is God’s agent to demonstrate that unity in diversity is in fact the law of life.”

Dr Tutu admits: “I am not telling you anything new.” He continues: “Our Communion has always been characterised by its comprehensiveness, its inclusiveness, its catholicity

. . . We have been known to embrace within this one family those whose views were almost diametrically opposed. We said: ‘I disagree with you but we belong together.’”

He then addresses the Archbishop of Canterbury directly: “Please invite [to the Lambeth Conference] ALL those in Episcopal orders who are not retired, even those irregularly consecrated or actively gay; please, now I appeal to you all, do not excommunicate one another seemingly so easily. Be welcoming and inclusive of one another. Commune with one another and with our Lord, sacramentally and in other ways.”

Dr Tutu ends dramatically: “Our Lord is weeping to see our Communion tearing itself apart on the issue of human sexuality, when the world for which he died is ravaged by poverty, disease, war and corruption. We are one of God’s agents to deal with these scourges. God has no one but us. Please, I beg you all in our Lord’s name, agree to disagree, argue, debate; disagree, but do all this as members of one family. Accept one another as God accepts us, however we are, in Christ.

“Wipe the tears from our Lord’s eyes; put the smile back on God’s face. I beg you all on bended knee.”

Should the primates heed Dr Tutu’s call? Vote here

Climate Change Survey

The Church Times is conducting a survey into Christian attitudes to climate change.

Please take a minute to complete it:

Click here to take the survey

All responses are anonymous and the overall results will inform the Green issue, out 12 October.

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Subscribe now to get full access

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read up to twelve articles for free. (You will need to register.)