Saturday, April 13, 2024

Role for ex-bishop

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People of all faiths are embarrassed at the rift that has taken place within the Elective Synod of the Anglican Church and its resulting deterioration. 

Reasons for this impasse are known to some but are not discussed publicly. Rather than wash dirty linen in public, priests would preferably pray for the Holy Spirit’s intervention. But they are human like the rest of us.

Our retired bishop recently stated that “the diocese has a very good, well-thought-out, legally sound process that leads to the election of a bishop’’. Why then the ruckus? Something has gone awry!

Rumours of preferential promotion of one priest over another and accusations of corrupt behaviour tarnish the church’s image. 

Though these accusations were considered “baseless, irrational and outrageous” by the administrator of the Diocese, people are cognisant that “where there’s smoke, there is fire”. The knowledgeable are also aware that the administrator’s written statement on the Diocese’s accounts does not signify a “hunky-dory” state.

Three of the ten principal attributes of all bishops are:

a) a symbol of the unity of the church in its mission;

b) a teacher and defender of the faith; and

c) a pastor of the pastors and of the laity.

Voting of the Elective Council, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the institution resulted in deadlock; one candidate was supported by the House of Clergy and the other by the Laity. Neither house takes precedence in the process. A politics-style mess developed, appearing to be more of a quest for power. This does not augur well for the election process: it is not a popularity contest.

Paragraph “c” of the attributes places “pastors” before “laity”. The logic behind this is obvious as it portrays the bishop, as “pastor of the pastors”, to be of greater significance in that role.

Bishops of the Anglican Communion agreed on these ten attributes (Lambeth Conference, 1988). Our retired bishop, a member of that communion, is therefore able to offer guidance on resolving the stalemate. It would also have been admirable had the other candidate agreed to step aside, if for no greater reason than the sake of peace in the church. 

Hopefully, the meeting of the Elective Synod [today] will be Spirit-guided.

– SAM MAXWELL, (Member of the Cathedral Parish and chorister)

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