Saturday, October 13, 2007

The CAPA Statements

The Council of African Anglican Provinces met earlier this month in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius. Two statements were issued after the meeting; one from CAPA, whose members include laity, clergy, bishops, and archbishops from the provinces of Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa, and a second statement from the Primates who were present (both statements are included in the EL article linked above).

I found it curious that the CAPA statement made almost no reference to the current unpleasantness within the Anglican Communion and instead seemed to focus on matters relevant to Africa. The Primates' statement, on the other hand, was almost all about matters outside Africa.

The Lead points us to an article that explains at least part of the reason for the disparity in the two statements; Council Resists Sexuality Debate, by the Rev. Edgar Ruddock, International Relations Director and a Deputy General Secretary of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission:

...The Mauritius meeting of CAPA rightly focused on the challenges facing the continent: poverty, war, injustice, debt, natural disaster. But there was no appeal for pity, but rather for the Churches to work for transformation as never before; to share the good news with renewed energy and sensitivity in the face of religious pluralism, growing materialism, and educational challenge. For the sake of all this, we were reminded again and again to “Rejoice in the Lord always!”

How sad, though, that the fractures of the Communion’s struggles over sexuality kept appearing, in an attempt to persuade the meeting to adopt an entrenched line in response to the US Bishops’ statement from New Orleans (News, 28 September).

How sad that whenever we looked at a document, we found it had been drafted by a Western pen. How sad that paragraphs appeared in the draft communiqué that spoke of matters that had not even been debated. And how encouraging it was that the meeting roundly threw them out, and left the issue of sexuality to the Primates...

...While there was a concerted attempt to get both the Council and the CAPA Primates to take a firm stand with the “Global South” and against Lambeth, this was clearly not the mood of the meeting. Their concern was an African agenda. Yes, the majority take a conservative view on the sexuality debate, but there was much talk over coffee and tea about the pressure being exerted by the US conservatives (who were very visibly present at the meeting) to “keep CAPA on board”. Many resented this, even those who would sympathise with the position...

...Yet the mood of the meeting was expressed most strongly when the final communiqué, which, it appeared, had been drafted largely by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, was discussed. Its many references to the sexuality debate, which had simply not been discussed, were voted off...
It appears that African Anglicans, with the exception of their Primates, have had enough of North Americans trying to set their agenda. Instead, it seems they are going to work together to meet the challenges facing Africa. Good for them.


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