THE secretary-general of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has rebuked those who have issued “misleading” statements about the ACC’s meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. Allegations of forgery were “scurrilous and untrue”, he said on Tuesday, and had been made “in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behaviour”.
Dr Idowu-Fearon was responding to comments made by the Primates who boycotted the meeting, and to online reports.
All four Primates absent from the meeting had cited the presence of representatives of the Episcopal Church in the United States (“TEC”) in their explanatory statements. “The Primates voted to bring discipline to TEC and, yet, we now see that the leadership of the Anglican Communion does not have the will to follow through,” the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley NtgalI, said.
The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, said that a “spirit of defiance against biblical faith and order has infected the structures and leadership of the Anglican Communion”.
In his statement issued on Monday, Dr Idowu-Fearon argued that the terms of the Primates’ decision on the Episcopal Church “have been followed through as far as is possible and legal. To say otherwise is misleading and wrong.” The Archbishop of Canterbury had asked those members of interfaith or ecumenical bodies from the US Episcopal Church and whose appointments he controlled to stand them down, “and they have done so”. He had also appointed a task group with representatives from the Communion, to fulfil the Primates’ request that such a group “maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship”.
Present at the meeting in Zambia is the Bishop of Connecticut, Dr Ian T. Douglas, a member of the standing committee for some years. Dr Idowu-Fearon sought to correct suggestions that this breached the Primates’ decision: “As the standing committee is a trustee body under English law, they cannot be removed without legal cause, and neither the Primates nor the ABC, nor indeed the ACC, can override the law.”
Dr Idowu-Fearon’s statement concluded with a firm rebuttal of claims about the attendance of Kenyan delegates at the meeting. In a statement issued before the meeting, Dr Wabukala had said that it was “a matter of regret” that his Church’s delegation to the ACC meeting in Lusaka “has been encouraged to disregard my spiritual counsel and attend this meeting. . .
“Despite my public statement and my personal direction to them, the Kenyan delegation has informed me of their intention to be present, with air tickets purchased for them and assignments already given. It seems that the rejection of the moral and spiritual authority of the Primates by the ACC chairman, without public rebuke from the Archbishop of Canterbury, has become infectious and is encouraging further breakdown of godly order in the Communion.”
Dr Idowu-Fearon stated that it had been the practice of the ACO to book the flights and cover the costs for all delegates attending ACC meetings. “To imply that on this occasion this established practice is corrupt is disingenuous. Tickets were arranged well before any indications of non-attendance by a small number of provinces.”
Allegations of fraud and corruption appeared in online reports, including the suggestion that a letter on the website of the Anglican Church of Kenya, announcing a reversal of the decision to boycott the Lusaka meeting, was a forgery, and that this was the work of the Bishop of Nairobi, the Rt Revd Joel Waweru, who is leading the Kenyan delegation in Lusaka.
Dr Idowu-Fearon firmly rebutted suggestions of criminal action, which had included forgery and corruption, “in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Communion Office staff were mentioned”. He said: “The unsubstantiated public allegations of forgery against the members of the Kenyan delegation are scurrilous and untrue and are made in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behaviour.”