Plea to rebel Primates: ‘Bring your wisdom to next meeting’

by
21 December 2010

by Ed Thornton

A BISHOP in the Church of Nigeria has urged Primates from the Global South not to boycott the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in January (News, 26 November).

Writing in the Church Times today, the Bishop of Kaduna, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor report, pleads with the Primates “not . . . to give room for the Communion to break up, during the time God has given [them] the privilege to represent [their] various provinces”.

“An archbishop may hold a strong position on a particular theological debate, but that should not be a reason to silence those of his colleagues with an alternative opinion as representatives of their dioceses,” Dr Idowu-Fearon writes.

Speaking on Friday, he said that his intervention was not prompted by pressure from any individual, “but by my conviction to work for the unity of this communion”.

He said that he feared that some of the Primates had “not actually consulted properly” before announcing their intention to boycott the meeting. There was “a huge desire” among “ordinary members” of the Church of Nigeria for the Communion to stay together, he said.

Responding to the suggestion made by the Primates that “the current text” of the Anglican Covenant is “fatally flawed”, Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “If those Primates believe they have a superior wisdom than the collective wisdom of those who produced the Covenant, let them meet and present their wisdom and not start throwing tantrums.”

In his article, Dr Idowu-Fearon writes: “History reminds us that all the 22 Councils of the Christian Church contained both those in favour and those against the subjects under discussion, and that the discussions were not always eirenic.”

He argues that meetings such as the Council of Chalcedon in 451 were called “precisely because people disagreed . . . where would the Church be today if ‘orthodox’ bishops had stayed away from the main councils of the Church?”

Dr Idowu-Fearon said he had sent a copy of the article to the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, and intended to talk to him.

He admitted that “some of these Primates would hardly give the idea of not going a second thought”, but said: “The Lord can do anything.”

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