African Archbishops respond to New Orleans (CAPA Primates Communique), October 2007

The Communiqué, CAPA Primates’ Meeting in Mauritius, October 2007

We, the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) meeting 3rd to 5th October in Mauritius, Province of the Indian Ocean, issue this Communiqué from our meeting:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our one and only Saviour.

1. We have been greatly encouraged by our time together with the CAPA Council that has just completed its General Meeting. A separate Communiqué has been issued from these proceedings and we give thanks to God for the dedication of each of the delegates and the many signs of God’s blessing throughout our various provinces.

2. At the conclusion of that meeting we conducted elections for the CAPA leadership team and are pleased to announce that the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius and Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean was elected to serve as Chairman with the Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Bishop of the Diocese of Kigali and Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, elected to serve as Vice-Chairman. We are grateful for their courageous leadership and look forward to the work of CAPA going from strength to strength.

3. We are, however, aware that we live and serve within the context of the wider Anglican Communion and acknowledge that we are profoundly concerned by the current impasse that confronts us. We have spent the last ten years in a series of meetings, issuing numerous communiqués, setting deadlines and yet we have made little progress. As was clearly articulated by our brother bishop, the Most Rev’d Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East when he addressed the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC), “we want unity but not unity at any expense.” We have observed that his call for clarity in response to the Dar es Salaam recommendations and his appeal to them to turn back from their current path or acknowledge that TEC has chosen to walk a different way from the rest of the Anglican Communion was ignored. We believe, therefore, that a change of direction from our current trajectory is urgently needed.

4. While meeting in Mauritius we received a copy of the report of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.

5. We are convinced that what is at stake in this crisis is the very nature of Anglicanism - to understand it simply in terms of the need for greater inclusivity in the face of changing sexual ethics is a grave mistake. It is not just about sexuality but also about the nature of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the authority of the Bible. We see a trend that seems to ignore the careful balance of reformed catholicity and missionary endeavor that is our true heritage and replace it with a religion of cultural conformity that offers no transforming power and no eternal hope.

6. In our considered opinion, however, there is a possible way forward. The Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each one of us accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. We therefore propose the following actions:

a. Call a special session of the Primates Meeting.

We believe that meeting together is essential if we are prayerfully to allow the Holy Spirit to work through our interactions and bring us to a common mind. We would need to:

i. Review the actual response made by The Episcopal Church - both their words and their actions.
ii. Finalize the Covenant proposal and set a timetable for ratification by individual provinces.

b. Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference

We recognize that such an action will be costly, however, we believe that the alternative - a divided conference with several provinces unable to participate and hundreds of bishops absent would be much more costly to our life and witness. It would bring an end to the Communion, as we know it. Postponement will accomplish the following:
i. Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that must be done.
ii. Ensure that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Covenant and so can come together as witness to our common faith.

7. We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward. We also stand ready to work with the various instruments of the Communion to ensure their success.

8. We are very much aware of the plight of faithful Anglicans in North America during these difficult times. We assure them of our prayers, support and full recognition until the underlying concerns are fully resolved.

9. While these current difficulties are challenging for all concerned we do not lose heart because we know that the One we serve is faithful. During our time together we have heard numerous testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the face of enormous difficulties and we are confident that we will find a way forward that will bring honour to His Name.

10. We recognize the fellowship and participation of the following Archbishops who have announced their retirement: the Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, The Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev’d Most Rev’d Njongonkulu Ndungane, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Rev’d Donald Mtetemela, Anglican Church of Tanzania. We also give thanks to God for the dedicated leadership of our outgoing chairman, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

11. Finally, we acknowledge with grateful thanksgiving the hospitality of the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest and the opportunity to pay courtesy calls on the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, and the Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam.

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen

The Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
**The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, The Church of the Province of West Africa
The Rt. Rev’d Philip Baji*, The Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Fidele Dirokpa, Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
The Most Revd Ian Ernest, The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
The Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, L’Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Rt Rev’d Trevor Mwamba*, The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Most Rev’d Bernard Ntahoturi, The Anglican Church of Burundi
The Most Rev’d Benjamin Nzimbi, The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi, The Church of the Province of Uganda
**The Rt Rev’d Johannes Seoka*, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Rev’d Canon Dr. Sami Fawzy Shehata*, Diocese of Egypt
*Representing the Province
** Absent during discussion of Communiqué due to travel schedule