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Lambeth Conference calls for peace in Uganda's civil war

Posted on: August 8, 1998 2:11 PM
Related Categories: Lambeth Conference 1998, Uganda, war

by Lisa Barrowclough
Lambeth Conference Communications

The plight of a Ugandan bishop whose wife was killed by an exploding land-mine brought a resolution into sharp focus for bishops at the Lambeth Conference Saturday (August 8).

"My wife, Winifred Ochola, was blown to pieces by a land-mine planted by rebels in May, 1997," Bishop Macleod Ochola of Kitgum (Uganda) told the bishops at the Conference's final plenary session.

"The suffering of [my] people is beyond words," Bishop Ochola said.

"The resolution passed unanimously yesterday on the plight of the people of northern and western Uganda was an encouragement to us all," he said. Bishop Ochola said the resolution will send a message to "both sides responsible for this appalling violence to acknowledge their responsibilities for the ongoing conflict."

"As a church we will always make ourselves available to act as mediators for peace and reconciliation," he said. "This process will lead both the victims and the perpetrators through the process of healing."

Acknowledging suffering

The resolution passed by the Lambeth conference Friday (August 7) acknowledges the suffering that people of Northern and Western Uganda have endured because of "continued civil war waged by rebels, known as LRA and ADF (Lord's Resistance Army and Allied Democratic Forces) backed by forces from outside of Uganda."

The resolution urges the Ugandan government to continue to engage in a process towards reconciliation, peace and justice, which "must include the Governments of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, representatives of the rebels, representatives of the main religious bodies and opinion leaders of the areas affected."

Bishop Eustace Kamanyire, from Ruwenzori (Uganda) proposed a successful amendment to call upon the Anglican Consultative Council and the United Nations to "assist in bringing about a quick settlement of this armed conflict."

Bishop Kamanyire thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury for his recent visit to Uganda, and suggested that he could be instrumental in appealing to the United Nations for the arrangements of dialogue, because he is held in high esteem by the Ugandan government.

Lambeth votes against new 'theme decade'

In other business, Friday, the bishops opted against dedicating the first 10 years of the new millennium to a new theme, following the pattern of the Anglican's Church's 1990s "Decade of Evangelism."

Bishops from the regions of East Central Africa and South Asia-Middle East floated suggestions to have a "Decade for Transformation & Renewal" or a "Decade of Peace and Reconciliation."

During debate Bishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Matana (Burundi) told the bishops, "I think we need a theme for our efforts, for our thoughts, for our concentration."

Bishop Nigel McCulloch of Wakefield (England) told the bishops that every decade should be a decade of evangelism: "I cannot believe that this conference wants to be thought to be seeking to limit and define God's gracious work by designating special decades for him for the whole Anglican communion."

Call for United Nations to review sanctions

The bishops also voted Friday (August 7) to call upon the Security Council of the United Nations "to urgently review" economic sanctions against Iraq and Libya.

In response to a resolution from the regional grouping of South Asia and the Middle East, the Conference declared itself "concerned about the plight of the civilian populations of these countries, particularly those who are vulnerable because medicines and food are lacking."

Bishop Azad Marshall (Arabian Gulf, Church of Pakistan), told of his experience with people from Libya and Iraq. "As we all know," he said "[they] have no control over how their governments operate internationally. The sanctions may be to impose or punish these governments, but their victims are always voiceless women, children and minorities."

Spouses' Programme presents report

At the end of Friday afternoon's business plenary, Eileen Carey, the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury, offered a report on behalf of the Spouses' Programme that has been running as a parallel event during the Lambeth conference. "We would like," said Mrs. Carey, "to have a record on file for the future."

Mrs. Carey reported that 630 spouses participated in the event. She also acknowledged the important development of having "brother spouses"-the five husbands who attended-among them.

The Spouses' Programme included four plenary sessions, which looked at the role of the bishop's spouse, social issues, the vocation of the Anglican Communion in the 21st century, and mission and evangelism today and tomorrow. They also shared in the fellowship and worship of Bible studies, held more than 100 workshops, enjoyed several outings, and presented a musical titled, "Crowning Glory."

"It is of major significance," said Mrs. Carey, "that we were able to share in the worship and plenaries of the bishops' program. Yet our separate identity was of immense value as well."

The plenary also approved 24 resolutions from the Communion's nine regions stating that the Lambeth Conference:

  • Calls on governments, religions and people of good will to work for peace and reconciliation (V.3).
  • Welcomes the peace process in Northern Ireland, supports the Church of Ireland and other churches in their efforts to build bridges between communities, and encourages reassessment of sectarian attitudes or alliances (V.5)
  • Encourages continued exploration of creation and funding of appropriate provincial structures for Anglican Continental Europe (V.6).
  • Requests Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates to consider immediate formation of an Iberian-Afro-Latin American Consultative Forum (V.7).
  • Reaffirms 1988 Lambeth Conference resolution condemning the United States of America's embargo against Cuba and calling for its cessation (V.9).
  • Requests the Anglican Consultative Council to consider developing a Millennium logotype that will focus on the birth of Jesus Christ (V.11).
  • Rejects the use of violence in the name of religion and supports the call for a 72 hour Global Cease Fire, December 31, 1999, to January 2, 2000 (V.12).
  • Reaffirms the recommendations of the 1988 Lambeth Conference Resolution 35 (Concerns of South Pacific Islands) on the right of indigenous peoples to self determination; supports recognition of indigenous peoples' land titles; encourages debt relief and environmental protection; encourages churches and governments in the Australia-New Zealand area to be aware of activities of multi-national corporations and to oppose exploitation (V.14).
  • Appeals for disarmament, upholding of human rights and harmony among peoples in the Middle East and South Asia region (V.15).
  • Calls upon churches in the Middle East and South Asia region to cooperate and acknowledge their common values and calls upon the region's governments to provide universal education, proper health care and security and refrain from militarism and abuse of authority (V.16).
  • Notes challenges of religious pluralism and calls upon the Anglican Consultative Council to give high priority to establishing a Religions/World Faiths desk (V.17).
  • Notes severe poverty of South Asian region and urges Western governments, Church bodies and aid agencies to strive to eradicate this condition (V.18).
  • Expresses concern about the situation in the Holy Land and Jerusalem; urges rights of all faiths to reside and have their own institutions in Jerusalem; supports Christians in Israel and Palestine and encourages continued work for peace in those lands (V.20).
  • Reaffirms the 1988 Lambeth Conference resolution supporting claims of the Anglican Church in Iran; awaits a response from the government of Iran and requests the Archbishop of Canterbury to pursue these concerns (V.21).
  • Calls on Anglican Churches to continue to provide opportunities and challenges for young people to serve in the ministry of the Church (V.24).
  • Supports economic justice in East Asia (V.25).
  • Urges reunification of Korea (V.26).
  • Calls on all provinces of the Communion to celebrate the Millennium as a Christ-centered event, freeing slaves, aiding refugees to return home and restoring lands to those who have been deprived of them (V.27).
  • Encourages the Anglican Communion and worldwide Christian community to campaign against the international arms trade (V.28).
  • Supports restoration of full British citizenship for residents of St. Helena island (V.30).
  • Gives thanks for the end of apartheid rule in South Africa and welcomes establishment of its first democratic government (V.31).
  • Thanks God for end of colonial rule and beginning of independence for Namibia and sends greetings and prayers to its president and people (V.32).
  • Welcomes Anglicans in Angola into the Province of Southern Africa and calls upon all involved in political life there to conclude the peace process (V.33).
  • Supports freedom of religion and separation of church from state in the national states of West Africa

Nan Cobbey, E.J. Malone Jr., and Allan Reeder contributed to this story.