Friday, March 10, 2006

Censure Peter Akinola

Thinking Anglicans provides us with a column by Stephen Bates:

...last week our old friend Archbishop Akinola waded into the inter-religious violence in Nigeria with all the abandon of a man waving a lighted match near a pool of petrol, threatening Muslims that they did not have a monopoly of violence. Who knows what the effect, but shortly afterwards Christian mobs in Onitsha started hacking people to death with machetes. The only people I can find who condoned the Archbishop’s remarks were on American blogsites. Even his fellow bishop Cyril Okorocha thought he was being inflammatory...
From the Catholic Information Service for Africa:

...Media reports say suspected mobs of Christians armed with machetes and guns roamed the streets of the mainly Christian city of Onitsha, in the south-east, killing at least 40 people in retaliation for Muslim violence in the north.

The revenge killings came a day after the country's leading Anglican primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola, warned Muslims that they did not have a "monopoly on violence." He said churches "may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue"...
Abp. Akinola's statement is dated February 21. Here is a segment of a report regarding the violence in Nigeria that appeared in the New York Times February 24:

ONITSHA, Nigeria - Dozens of charred, smoldering bodies littered the streets of this bustling commercial capital Thursday after three days of rioting in which Christian mobs wielding machetes, clubs and knives set upon their Muslim neighbors.

Rioters have killed scores of people here, mostly Muslims, after burning their homes, businesses and mosques in the worst violence yet linked to the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad first published in a Danish newspaper...

The main thoroughfare leading into the city across the Niger River was covered in carrion - the bodies of Muslim Hausas trying to flee rampaging bands of youths, witnesses said. Many of the victims appeared to have been beaten to death; most of the bodies had been doused with gasoline and burned...

...At the central mosque, rioters burned the building and hacked down trees.

Someone wrote in chalk on a charred wall: "Jesus is Lord. As from today know more Muhammad."

Thousands of Muslim residents fled the city, some on foot over the bridge leading to Delta state, taking refuge in neighboring cities. Thousands more huddled in police and army barracks in Onitsha and surrounding towns...
What makes this situation even more disturbing is that we hear absolutely no condemnation of Akinola's fanning of the flames of violence from the leadership of the Anglican Communion, even though the Archbishop of Canterbury received a letter from volunteers serving in Nigeria asking him to censure Abp. Akinola for his role in the riots:

A COALITION of volunteers in Nigeria has written an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to denounce last week's "irresponsible" statement by the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, on the current Christian-Muslim riots.

Archbishop Akinola, writing as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had warned Muslims that "they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. . . . CAN may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue."

The volunteers say this "aggressive and inflammatory rhetoric" will incite further violence...
Returning to Stephen Bates' column:

...This of course is the archbishop who has just ostentatiously praised the Nigerian government for introducing draconian and inhumane legislation against homosexuals, thereby breaking that great holy writ of conservative evangelicals, Lambeth 1.10...
From Abp. Akinola:

The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality...
Dr. Williams received a letter regarding this situation as well:

...We understand that the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council is meeting in London in March 2006. We ask that you bring this matter to the attention of the Standing Committee and the Councils of the Anglican Communion. In particular:

We ask that attention be paid to those members of the Councils who are failing to honour the documents and statements agreed by those Councils to listen to the experience of lesbian and gay people...
So far, Canterbury has been silent. However, the U.S. Department of State has not:

The United States is concerned by reports of legislation in Nigeria that would restrict or prohibit citizens from assembling, organizing, holding events or rallies, and participating in ceremonies of religious union, based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. This proposed legislation has not been adopted.

The freedoms of speech, association, expression, assembly, and religion are long-standing international commitments and are universally recognized. Nigeria, as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has assumed important obligations on these matters. We expect the Government of Nigeria to act in a manner consistent with those obligations.
The administration of George W. Bush, not exactly known as champions of civil rights, denounces Nigeria, but Rowan Williams utters not a word. We live in bizarre times.

I'll let Stephen Bates have the last word:

...Now these men have all been very hot on western decadence. They want the American Episcopal Church, and especially Gene Robinson, banned from the next Lambeth Conference, though I don’t think Robinson has ever threatened violence against anyone.

All I know is that if Rowan Williams bans the bishop of New Hampshire but extends invitations to men such as Akinola, Malango and Kunonga, Anglicanism will have ceased to be a communion worthy of the name. It will be, to coin a phrase, spiritually dead.
J.

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