Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bp. Martyn Minns Revealed as Abp. Akinola's Ghost Writer

You may recall our recent discussion of the latest letter released by Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria. At the time of that discussion, I noted that the style of writing was not consistent with previous publications by the Archbishop. There was some specualtion regarding who his ghost writer might be.

Church Times is reporting that Bp. Martyn Minns rewrote most of the letter:

A Bishop in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, which was published on Sunday...

...The document, “A Most Agonising Journey towards Lambeth 2008”, appears to express to Nigerian synods the personal anguish of Archbishop Akinola over his attendance at the Lambeth Conference.

But computer tracking software suggests that the letter was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, who was consecrated last year by Archbishop Akinola to lead the secessionist Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA)...

...Close examination of the document, tracing the authorship, editing history, and timing of changes, reveals about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream...
What is the significance of this? A document that is purported to be an expression of the "personal anguish" of an African Primate was actually penned by this Primate's North Atlantic allies. Any claim that it is an expression of the mind of the Global South can no longer be considered valid.

If I were a Global South clergy person, I would be quite concerned, if not deeply offended, by North Americans and Europeans having the audacity to think they can speak for the Global South. Apparently, there is evidence of just such concern:

...The Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Trevor Musonda Mwamba, has expressed reservations about the tone and style of pronouncements in the past, which have purportedly come from African bishops.

Speaking at the Ecclesiastical Law Society conference in Liverpool (News, 2 February), he said: “Up till now the loud voices in Africa have threatened the Anglican Communion with schism, insisting that some provinces be expelled from our worldwide fellowship. Yet such voices, because of the very diversity and strength of the Anglican Church in Africa, could be playing a reconciling role.”

The voice of the majority of Africa’s 37 million Anglicans had been “eclipsed by the intensity of sounds on opposing sides of the debate”.
May we remember this incident the next time Abp. Akinola's loud voice claims to be speaking for the majority of Anglicans in Africa. Most likely, the voice we will be hearing is not coming from another continent across the ocean, but from an office in Virginia.

J.

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