Sunday, August 12, 2007

Archbishop Sentamu on Mugabe and some other stuff

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York in the UK and a native of Uganda, was interviewed on ABC Radio, Australia, and had some things to say about Robert Mugabe, and the Roman and Anglican Archbishops in Zimbabwe.

Stephen Crittenden: I'm thinking, talking about Amin, leads me to the question of Zimbabwe at present, and Robert Mugabe. I wonder how you think the churches in Zimbabwe are coping with the political situation they face. Are they getting the assistance that they need from their fellow churches in Africa and elsewhere?

John Sentamu: I think the Archbishop of Bulawayo, who is Roman Catholic, has been actually fairly courageous in the things he's been saying, but I'm afraid the Anglican Bishop of Harare has tended to side more with Mugabe and therefore caused the split within the Christian community, not speaking with one voice. It's really got to be resolved, but there is a cost, always, when people take these kind of prophetic utterances. It isn't easy when people speak out, but I think it's got to be resolved. And I happen to think for myself that South Africa could have played a major part in making sure that Mugabe over the last four years at least, does not continue telling the world that actually there isn't any violence, there isn't any hunger, there isn't any starvation, because a lot of Zimbabweans are now refugees in South Africa, and it's quite obvious that Mugabe's regime is so brutal, that it is so dictatorial, and a lot of people are dying and starving. And we're doing all we can to try and support the churches but you can only do it indirectly, because when you're in England, immediately he thinks that anybody who speaks out is simply a lackey really for the British government.

Friends, please pray for Mugabe's ouster, and for those who take his side to also be held accountable.

In regards to the present difficulties in the Anglican Communion, Sentamu also said that all parties should continue to be in conversation. Those, like Nigeria and some other African churches, who wish to not attend the upcoming Lambeth Conference would be excluding themselves from the Communion.

Stephen Crittenden: On another issue, Archbishop Sentamu, where do you stand in this seemingly endless debate about gay clergy and gay bishops that's breaking the Anglican communion apart?

John Sentamu: I think, for myself, that the 1998 resolution was very clear on where the church stood, and it actually invited everybody to engage in the listening process to gay and lesbian people. I still think it was not a good thing for the Episcopal church, while we are still in conversation, to proceed the consecration of Jim Robinson. I happen to think they actually pre-empted the conversation and the discussion. Now what I don't think should happen now [is] that the whole question of gay and lesbian people -- when we said we should listen to their experiences -- should now become the kind of dominant theological factor for the whole of the communion. Because really the communion, at the heart of it, has got to do a number of things. While on one hand upholding Christian teaching, [it] must also be very loving and kind towards gay and lesbian people because that's part of the resolution. And it must also continue to listen. And I'm not so sure, when some people speak as if the debate has been concluded, or we cannot engage with this, you're being very faithful to the resolution.

Secondly, the Windsor Report has made it very clear that the four instruments of unity -- that is, Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Primates Meeting -- should be the kind of instrument that actually allows all of us to talk. So those who now say, for example, that they don't want to come to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 because there may be people from ECUSA , well all I want to say is that church history has always taught us that churches have always disagreed. I mean, over the nature of Christ, the salvation of Christ, there were bitter, bitter, bitter disagreements in the early church, but everybody turned up at those ecumenical councils to resolve their differences. So my view would be, if you're finding this quite difficult, please do not stop the dialogue and the conversation.

Sentamu had said elsewhere that he did not consider issues of sexuality to be core Christian doctrine. His personal beliefs lie more on the conservative end of the spectrum. But it is clear that for him, genocide is clearly far worse than homosexuality; in Akinola's case, it isn't clear that he thinks genocide is worse.

No comments: