Skip to comments.Eames asks Akinola to reconsider his actions
Posted on 10/09/2005 5:22:22 PM PDT by sionnsar
Archbishop Robin Eames, Primate of Ireland, said Wednesday that he hoped Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, would reconsider recent actions which Eames said could damage efforts to keep the Anglican Communion intact.
Eames made his comments during a question and answer period following the second of two lectures he presented at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) in Alexandria , Va. The Communion's senior primate, Eames chaired the Lambeth Commission, a group formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to help the Communion through a controversy over the role of gay men and lesbians in the Church.
Akinola, who heads the Communion's second largest province, is the leader of Anglican conservatives. In its synod last month in Onitsha, his church removed all references to communion with the See of Canterbury from its constitution, replacing them with a provision that placed the church in communion with all Anglican churches, dioceses and provinces that "hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."
"I was personally very, very anxious when I heard about this development," Eames said. "What happens when an individual province redefines orthodoxy? It is cutting across the due process that I and others have lived by.
"My plea to my brother Peter, the Primate of Nigeria would be, 'Pause, Peter, pause, because we are all in this together, because a preemptive strike like this would have the consequences of making the tensions greater and therefore, I ask that you would pause and take on the reservations that the rest of us have.' "
The office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is considered one of the four "instruments of unity," which sustains the Anglican Communion. The Nigerian churches action was considered a step toward schism in some quarters, but at a press briefing in late September, Akinola denied that was the case.
He said that his church's actions had been "misrepresented by those who think that schism in the Anglican Church has become inevitable." He attributed concerns about schism to the "revisionist agenda on homosexuality" being pursued by the U. S. and Canadian churches, and the "double-speak" of the English House of Bishops, which recently decreed that gay clergy can register their relationships under Great Britain's new Civil Partnership Act, but cannot engage in sexual relations.
"The triennial Synod of the Church amended the language of our constitution so that those who are bent on creating a new religion in which anything goes, and have thereby chosen to walk a different path may do so without us," Akinola said.
At its meeting in September, the Nigerian synod also formalized the creation of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas (CANA) which, according to a news release, was formed "to give a worshiping refuge to thousands in the USA who no longer feel welcomed to worship in the Liberal churches especially with the recent theological innovations encouraging practices which the Nigerians recognize as sin."
Eames said this action raised concerns about Akinola's commitment to the Windsor Report and the communiqu￩ from the Primates meeting at the Dromantine resort in Newry, Northern Ireland in February, 2005. The Windsor Report chastised bishops who cross jurisdictional boundaries to minister without invitation in other dioceses and provinces. In the Dromantine communique, the primates said they would commit themselves " neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions."
Akinola had initially announced the formation of CANA during a trip to the United States just before the release of the Windsor Report last October. CANA has no affiliates in the Diocese of Washington, and in the year since its founding, has shown few signs of life.
In addition to his lectures at VTS, Eames also preached at Washington National Cathedral, spoke at the Cathedral's adult forum and attended a dinner in his honor hosted by the Rev. Canon John L. Peterson, the former secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council who now directs the Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation at the Cathedral College .
During an interview at the college, Eames expressed concern over the role that wealthy conservative donors in the United States were playing in the current controversy. He said he was "quite certain" that many church leaders in the developing world had been offered financial inducements to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
"I think it is happening, I just don't think it is moral," Eames said. "Is it the might of finance that will influence a theological outlook, and then that outlook come to dominate he Communion?
"It raises a serious question for me: what is the real nature of their faith and their Anglicanism? It is certainly different from mine."
Conservative leaders have said they are simply trying to help poor provinces that cannot in good conscience accept financial support from provinces that differ with them on the issue of homosexuality.
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