Secretary-general defends ACC against its critics
The secretary general of the ACC, Dr Idowu Fearon, and its chairman, Dr James TengatengaCredit: Anglican Archives
The secretary general of the ACC, Dr Idowu Fearon, and its chairman, Dr James Tengatenga
A REBUKE has been issued by the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion to those who have issued “misleading” statements about the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in 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 Josiah Idowu-Fearon was responding to comments made by Primates who boycotted the meeting in Lusaka, and to online reports.
All four Primates boycotting the meeting cited the participation of representatives of the Episcopal Church of the United States 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,” said the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntgali. 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 about 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 TEC and whose appointment he controls to stand them, “and they have done so”. He had also appointed a task group with representatives from across 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, the 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 Douglas will finish his term at this meeting and members will be asked to elect a new chair, vice-chair, and several members. Nobody who is a recognised delegate from a member province can be prevented from being nominated, according to the constitution of the ACC — although there was a reminder from Dr Idowu-Fearon in his statement that the Archbishop of Canterbury had expressed a hope on the first day of the meeting that the ACC would “work with the Primates for the welfare of the whole Communion”.
There had been some confusion on that opening day about whether members of the ACC were being asked to endorse the Primates’ January communiqué (News, 9 April). They had been asked to applaud in response to the Archbishop’s comment: “It is both my and the Primates’ desire, hope and prayer that the Anglican Consultative Council should also share in working through the consequences of our impaired relationships.” Applause was scattered due to confusion about precisely what this would signify.
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, the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, said it was “a matter of regret that this Church’s delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) 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 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, that 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.”