Monday, February 19, 2007

Global South Anglican website: twisting the witness of a martyr shepherd for their political ends
And other political comments on the goings-on in the Anglican Communion

I recently posted a commemoration of Archbishop Janani Luwum of Uganda, murdered on February 17, 1977 (he was last seen alive on Feb 16, and some celebrate him on that day). ++Luwum tried to ameliorate the abuses of Idi Amin's regime, but he ended up having to be martyred, possibly by Amin himself. Jesus said the good shepherd gives us their life for their flock; any reasonable person would agree that Janani Luwum was a good shepherd.

Janani Luwum was Ugandan. Archbishop Orombi, of Uganda, was one of those who walked apart from Communion at the recent Primates' Meeting. I do not know how ++Luwum would have responded to the present political crisis in the Anglican Communion. He might have walked away, and stood with Peter Akinola in his support of violating the human rights of LGBT Africans. He might have said stop this, this is not a doctrine central to our faith, and we have much bigger problems - African Anglican leaders like Archbishops Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa and Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of Central Tanganyika have said as much.

I do not know what he would have done, and I do not care. When I wrote my reflection, I mentioned nothing of our political crisis. ++Luwum's witness had nothing to do with this. It had to do with resistance to oppression, which is a theme of my blog.

The website Global South Anglican ( apparently had no such scruples. One poster wrote, "He would not compromise on Biblical truth and he paid the ultimate price," reminding Anglicans that Feb 16th was a very important day for them in direct reference to the current crisis.

Mark Harris, of the blog Preludium, had this to say: (
"There is no doubt that the Archbishop was convinced and convicted by his faith that that that faith was biblically based. Was that a matter of not compromising on "biblical truth?" Yes of course if what is meant by biblical truth is justice for the poor and the oppressed, care for those in prison, praying with those about to be executed and suffering for that faith and witness."

Once again, ++Luwum's witness to Biblical truth had NOTHING to do with homosexuality. It had everything to do with resistance to oppression. Now, it's likely that he thought that homosexuality was wrong, given his social location. However, we don't know that. Biblical truth is also, as Harris points out, about justice for the oppressed etc. We can make a good case that ++Luwum would have taken the same tack as Desmond Tutu.

I posted a comment on the website criticizing them for using ++Luwum for political purposes. The comment was deleted - I expected no better of them. However, I didn't mention the Desmond Tutu angle.

(Right now, the GS Anglican website is down, and redirects to It is a good insight into the thinking of conservative Global South Anglican leaders, and has Asian and African contributors, so I suppose I hope it comes back soon.)

This particular call for witness among the GS Anglicans could have been because a sub-group, commisioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, found that the Episcopal Church had mostly met the requirements of the Windsor Report - to apologize for consecrating Gene Robinson, to stop consecrating any other LGBT bishops, and to stop blessing same-sex unions. We passed the first two, they said, but need to work on the last; it is a valid local option in many Dioceses.

Well, the conservatives shouldn't have got so worked up. The Anglican Primates, as a group, have published a statement. They ask us to:

‘make an unequivocal common covenant’ not to authorize blessings of same-sex unions in their diocese or through the General Convention;

‘confirm that … a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’
(courtesy of Thinking Anglicans)

Liberal groups in the Anglican Communion have protested. On the flip side, ++Katharine Jefferts Schori asks Episcopalians to: (courtesy of Daily Episcopalian,

""It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjourned at 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York."

"Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive.""

There will be difficult times ahead for all sides. Conservatives have been recommended not to consider seceding with church property (that's my understanding). On the flip side, TEC will need to respond to these demands, while honoring the faithful witness of our LGBT members. There are people throwing their hands up, saying "screw this, we don't need the Anglican Communion, it's full of shit anyway."

We are in a position where we may have to ask our LGBT members to wait for justice. Martin Luther King Jr reminds us that justice delayed is justice denied. By these words, asking them to wait for justice is a sin. This is especially true because the Church (in the catholic) sense has excluded them or forced them into the closet for so long - and we've seen what happens when people get forced into the closet with Rev Brent Dugan.

It would also be wrong, though to walking apart from the rest of the Anglican Communion without allowing them to engage us, and trying to engage them. That would be acting as if we know what's best for them, and to hell with them if they don't see that.

Now, frankly, this is exacly what I believe. With my words, I have called Global South Anglican leaders idiots and disgraceful. I have said that they don't know crap about interpreting the Bible. This is what I believe. However, this is not how I am going to act. I am going to act as a brother in Christ to them. If you've studied social psychology, you know that beliefs often don't correspond to actions. In fact, sometimes, when people are confronted with a situation, they act in a way that isn't consistent with their previously stated beliefs. And then if asked again, they change their beliefs.

My attitudes towards homosexuality and Biblican interpretation are not up for change. My attitudes towards Global South Anglicans are, and they will (hopefully) be changed by my actions of respectful engagement. This is how I hope my fellow liberal Episcopalians will act. Robert Ihloff and his Diocese's clergy decided not to do this, in response to the immense amount of hurt inflicted on us. My prayer is that other Episcopalians will do differently. The Global South has had hurt inflicted on them, but Jesus heals that hurt. Maybe we can trust in Jesus and start to talk with each other.

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