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Mwamba tells of African ‘proxy war’

05 November 2009

by Pat Ashworth

PEOPLE have made a career out of trying to hijack the Anglican Com­munion, the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Trevor Mwamba (above), believes.

He told the audience at the annual Pitt Lecture at the Berkeley Divinity School, Yale, last month, that Anglicanism was allergic to the single point of view into which an alliance of American Episcopal bishops and some African bishops was trying to shape it.

The myth that African bishops were of one mind had been “a useful barge pole or cannon fodder in the internecine feud within the Epis­copal Church”, he said. “Regrettably, some African bishops have allowed themselves to be used in a proxy war instead of being mediators and reconcilers.

“The media see a fight between two bitter opponents, the ‘conser­vative’ African bishops and ‘liberal’ Western bishops. They have not been dis­appointed, with some African bishops like ecclesiastical long-range ballistic missiles launch­ing them­selves from the African con­tinent to land and interfere in provinces and dioceses in the Episcopal Church.”

This controversy, he said, “has really been a one-sided fight. The dissident bishops from America have used Africa as a trampoline on which to bounce their views, and some ambitious priests from outside Africa have used African bishops as stepping stones to become bishops. We are not amused.”

Apart from press coverage in the West, the gay issue was not a pre-occupation of the poor, the Bishop said. The integrity of people outside the Northern hemisphere had been degraded by concentration on the gay and lesbian debate at the expense of more immediate and pressing issues such as poverty, disease, bad governance, and the environment. “Africa does not want the sexuality debate imposed upon it as a priority agenda. Our priority is about basic survival.”

No African province would instigate a break-up of the Anglican Communion, in which there existed “a large constituency of faithful members who are bemused and be­wildered by the intensity of the opposing views on issues of sexual­ity”, he suggested.

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