Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace, London
Sunday, May 6th, 2007
My dear Rowan,
Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus the Christ.
I have received your note expressing your reservations regarding my plans to install Bishop Martyn Minns as the first Missionary Bishop of CANA. Even though your spokesmen have publicized the letter and its general content I did not actually receive it until after the ceremony. I do, however, want to respond to your concerns and clarify the situation with regard to CANA. I am also enclosing a copy of my most recent letter to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori.
We are a deeply divided Communion. As leaders of the Communion we have all spent enormous amounts of time, travelled huge distances - sometimes at great risk, and expended much needed financial resources in endless meetings, communiqués and reports – Lambeth Palace 2003, Dromantine 2005, Nottingham 2006 and Dar es Salaam 2007. We have developed numerous proposals, established various task forces and yet the division has only deepened. The decisions, actions, defiance and continuing intransigence of The Episcopal Church are at the heart of our crisis.
We have all sought ways to respond to the situation. As you well know the Church of Nigeria established CANA as a way for Nigerian congregations and other alienated Anglicans in North America to stay in the Communion. This is not something that brings any advantage to us – neither financial nor political. We have actually found it to be a very costly initiative and yet we believe that we have no other choice if we are to remain faithful to the gospel mandate. As I stated to you, and all of the primates in Dar es Salaam, although CANA is an initiative of the Church of Nigeria – and therefore a bonafide branch of the Communion - we have no desire to cling to it. CANA is for the Communion and we are more than happy to surrender it to the Communion once the conditions that prompted our division have been overturned.
We have sought to respond in a measured way. We delayed the election of our first CANA bishop until after General Convention 2006 to give The Episcopal Church every opportunity to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor report – to no avail. At the last meeting of the Church of Nigeria House of Bishops we deferred a decision regarding the election of additional suffragans for CANA out of respect for the Dar es Salaam process.
Sadly we have seen no such respect from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Their most recent statement was both insulting and condescending and makes very clear that they have no intention of listening to the voice of the rest of the Communion. They are determined to pursue their own unbiblical agenda and exacerbate our current divisions.
In the middle of all of this the Lord’s name has been dishonoured. If we fail to act many will be lost to the church and thousands of souls will be imperiled. This we cannot and will not allow to happen. It is imperative that we continue to protect those at most risk while we seek a way forward that will offer hope for the future of our beleaguered Communion. It is to this vision that we in the Church of Nigeria and CANA remain committed.
Be assured of my prayers.