CAPA Communique, Mauritius, Indian Ocean, October 2007
Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa
Tenth CAPA Council Meeting
Mauritius, Indian Ocean, October 2007
We, delegates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, gathered at Hotel El Monaco, Quatre Bornes, Mauritius between the 2nd and 5th October 2007 for the tenth meeting of the Council under the chairmanship of the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola. We represent eleven of the twelve Provinces of CAPA* as laity, clergy, bishops and archbishops and we issue this Communiqué from our meeting.
We have gathered in Mauritius, a delightful republic that is a bright light of hope for all developing nations after its years as a colonial territory of Great Britain. Mauritius is a diverse multi-ethnic society, with a stable democracy, regular free elections, a positive human rights record and a growing economy that has won world-wide recognition. We have come here to join with our sisters and brothers of the Province of the Indian Ocean to give thanks for their faithfulness as we all bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the only hope for eternal transformation.
We are extremely grateful for the warm welcome shown to us by the Primate of the Indian Ocean and Bishop of Mauritius, the Most Reverend Ian Ernest, the Acting General Secretary, the Most Rev’d Benjamin Nzimbi, the Provincial Secretary, the Rev’d Samatiana Johnson, and the local support team. We are thankful for the gracious hospitality shown to us by the Prime Minister of Mauritius, the Honourable Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Rashid Beebeejaun, and the Mayor of Quatre Bornes, Her Worship Regina Maudar. We were also pleased to be able to welcome the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev’d John Sentamu, for part of the meeting.
We recognize that not every nation in Africa is blessed with such an open and stable government and a helpful economic environment, but we do rejoice in the encouraging signs that have been shared with us. For example, after years of devastating war there are glimmers of hope in Democratic Republic of the Congo and the now vibrant economies of Kenya and Ghana have recently drawn plaudits from the World Bank.
We have met as representatives of the fastest growing part of our beloved Communion and those of us gathered account for more than 37 million Anglicans. We believe that we have “come of age”. We, who were once regarded as disobedient to God, are now compelled by the Gospel to declare the Good News of God’s liberating love to all those who live in disobedience to God’s Word.
We have come together recognizing the rich history of the African Church and the gift of faith that it has long given to the world. We are reminded of the saints, fathers and martyrs of the early church such as Augustine of Hippo, Tertullian, Cyprian and Perpetua of Carthage, and Athanasius and Clement of Alexandria; and more recent young martyrs of the Continent.
We have been distressed by the reports of the suffering and devastation that has occurred in both East, Central and West Africa as a result of recent environmental crises including both drought and floods. We were also disturbed by accounts of the military oppression in Myanmar, political oppression in Zimbabwe and by the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Darfur, Sudan. We are, however, encouraged by the response from the local churches and wider world community. We are praying that all those affected will quickly receive the practical aid that is so sorely needed and the abiding comfort of God’s Holy Spirit.
The theme of our meeting was “CALLED TO A LIFE OF FAITHFULNESS” and in his Opening Address, Archbishop Akinola challenged all present to see the importance of our faithfulness to God’s call as it applies to obedience to all of God’s commands, stewardship of all of God’s gifts and mission to all of God’s people. Failure in any one of these areas leaves the church impotent to take on the enormous challenges of today.
We were especially reminded of the need for obedience and faithful living when we received the report on our work with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We were encouraged by the good progress made by the CAPA office in Nairobi but the disturbing growth in the numbers and classes of new infections reminded us that the battle is far from over. This is especially true for many women in Africa who find themselves increasingly vulnerable to sexual oppression and abuse. We believe that as a faith community, in addition to our ongoing care for those living with HIV/AIDS, we must issue a renewed call to prevention through abstinence and faithfulness – with particular focus on the men of our communities. We also call on the UN and the Governments of the G8 nations to fulfill their commitments so that the suffering of our most vulnerable sisters and brothers can be alleviated.
The acting General Secretary, Archbishop Nzimbi, challenged us to demonstrate faithfulness in all aspects of financial stewardship throughout our various provinces and especially in our financial support of CAPA. There was unanimous conviction that all provinces presently in arrears will fulfill their commitments by the end of 2007. We were also reminded that the number of people living in abject poverty within our provinces continues to grow and is a devastating indictment of poor governance in a continent that has been blessed by God with remarkable resources. We were encouraged by the report of the Global South Economic Empowerment Consultation (see end note ) recently concluded in Accra, Ghana. We support its recommendations, especially in the call for the recruitment of an Economic Empowerment officer in each of our provinces.
Faithfulness in mission is at the heart of our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We were blessed by the reports of continued growth in mission throughout many of our provinces. We are, however, very much aware of the truth of the saying that “the church is always one generation away from extinction”. We urge all churches to reach out to and disciple the youth of our Provinces so that they are empowered to stand against the false promises of materialism that bombard their minds, become mature disciples of Christ and take their full part in the future mission of our church.
While we have spent the majority of our time focused on the CALL TO A LIFE OF FAITHFULNESS within our own Continent we have been unable to ignore the current crisis in our Communion. The situation is summarized well in “The Road to Lambeth” the report commissioned by the CAPA Primates, and is noted below . We are united in our conviction that the Lord of the Church is calling upon Africa once again to contend for the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints.”
We concluded our meeting with a special service for the inauguration of the DORCAS Activity Center at St. Thomas Church, Beau Bassin – an outreach ministry to the underprivileged of the surrounding community. It was a joyful celebration and a reminder that in the middle of all of our struggles God is at work renewing his Church – especially at the local level.
We recognize that in the few days that we have shared together we have only been given a glimpse of all that God is doing but it is enough to fill us with hope in God’s love, God’s power and God’s faithfulness. We are grateful for the dedication and commitment shown by the CAPA leadership team over these past four years and look forward to God’s continued blessing in the coming years.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20,21)
* Provinces Represented:
Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa.
A Statement from the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I write to you as the newly elected Chairman of CAPA with profound gratitude for the trust shown in me by my brother and sister delegates and also with the sure conviction that I can only serve in this role with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the mercy of God our Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have just completed the CAPA Council Meeting for 2007 with the theme “CALLED TO A LIFE OF FAITHFULNESS” and this, I believe, will be an appropriate theme for my service among you. I do not bring long years of experience nor the resources of a large Province but what I do bring is a confidence in Jesus Christ who has been my Lord, Savior and Friend since childhood. My family members have all been faithful Anglicans for generations and we know what it is to live by His grace and have seen His hand at work in our lives.
I also bring the experience of living in Mauritius, a multi-cultural and multi-religious society that is an example to the world as we live together with a sense of mutual respect and acceptance. I have also seen God’s hand at work in the Province of the Indian Ocean as we have confronted enormous challenges both environmental and cultural and yet continue to grow in numbers and faithfulness. My hope is that I will be able to bring this experience to the challenges that confront the various provinces of beloved Communion at this time.
I take the work of reconciliation very seriously and believe that reconciling people to God and to one another is our apostolic call; but the unity that we seek must never be at the expense of the truth of the Holy Scriptures that is the bedrock of our faith. I also know that nothing can be accomplished that is not rooted in prayer and so I call on all believers to pray for the people, clergy and bishops of the Provinces of CAPA, the work to which we have all been called and the leadership of the Anglican Communion.
Be assured of my prayers and commitment, by the grace of God, to live a life of faithfulness among you.
With every blessing,
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1:24,25)
African Archbishops respond to New Orleans (CAPA Primates Communique)
The Communiqué, CAPA Primates’ Meeting in Mauritius, October 2007
We, the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) meeting 3rd to 5th October in Mauritius, Province of the Indian Ocean, issue this Communiqué from our meeting:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our one and only Saviour.
1. We have been greatly encouraged by our time together with the CAPA Council that has just completed its General Meeting. A separate Communiqué has been issued from these proceedings and we give thanks to God for the dedication of each of the delegates and the many signs of God’s blessing throughout our various provinces.
2. At the conclusion of that meeting we conducted elections for the CAPA leadership team and are pleased to announce that the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius and Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean was elected to serve as Chairman with the Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Bishop of the Diocese of Kigali and Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, elected to serve as Vice-Chairman. We are grateful for their courageous leadership and look forward to the work of CAPA going from strength to strength.
3. We are, however, aware that we live and serve within the context of the wider Anglican Communion and acknowledge that we are profoundly concerned by the current impasse that confronts us. We have spent the last ten years in a series of meetings, issuing numerous communiqués, setting deadlines and yet we have made little progress. As was clearly articulated by our brother bishop, the Most Rev’d Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East when he addressed the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC), “we want unity but not unity at any expense.” We have observed that his call for clarity in response to the Dar es Salaam recommendations and his appeal to them to turn back from their current path or acknowledge that TEC has chosen to walk a different way from the rest of the Anglican Communion was ignored. We believe, therefore, that a change of direction from our current trajectory is urgently needed.
4. While meeting in Mauritius we received a copy of the report of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.
5. We are convinced that what is at stake in this crisis is the very nature of Anglicanism - to understand it simply in terms of the need for greater inclusivity in the face of changing sexual ethics is a grave mistake. It is not just about sexuality but also about the nature of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the authority of the Bible. We see a trend that seems to ignore the careful balance of reformed catholicity and missionary endeavor that is our true heritage and replace it with a religion of cultural conformity that offers no transforming power and no eternal hope.
6. In our considered opinion, however, there is a possible way forward. The Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each one of us accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. We therefore propose the following actions:
a. Call a special session of the Primates Meeting.
We believe that meeting together is essential if we are prayerfully to allow the Holy Spirit to work through our interactions and bring us to a common mind. We would need to:
i. Review the actual response made by The Episcopal Church - both their words and their actions.
ii. Finalize the Covenant proposal and set a timetable for ratification by individual provinces.
b. Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference
We recognize that such an action will be costly, however, we believe that the alternative - a divided conference with several provinces unable to participate and hundreds of bishops absent would be much more costly to our life and witness. It would bring an end to the Communion, as we know it. Postponement will accomplish the following:
i. Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that must be done.
ii. Ensure that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Covenant and so can come together as witness to our common faith.
7. We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward. We also stand ready to work with the various instruments of the Communion to ensure their success.
8. We are very much aware of the plight of faithful Anglicans in North America during these difficult times. We assure them of our prayers, support and full recognition until the underlying concerns are fully resolved.
9. While these current difficulties are challenging for all concerned we do not lose heart because we know that the One we serve is faithful. During our time together we have heard numerous testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the face of enormous difficulties and we are confident that we will find a way forward that will bring honour to His Name.
10. We recognize the fellowship and participation of the following Archbishops who have announced their retirement: the Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, The Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev’d Most Rev’d Njongonkulu Ndungane, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Rev’d Donald Mtetemela, Anglican Church of Tanzania. We also give thanks to God for the dedicated leadership of our outgoing chairman, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
11. Finally, we acknowledge with grateful thanksgiving the hospitality of the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest and the opportunity to pay courtesy calls on the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, and the Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen
The Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
**The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, The Church of the Province of West Africa
The Rt. Rev’d Philip Baji*, The Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Fidele Dirokpa, Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
The Most Revd Ian Ernest, The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
The Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, L’Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Rt Rev’d Trevor Mwamba*, The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Most Rev’d Bernard Ntahoturi, The Anglican Church of Burundi
The Most Rev’d Benjamin Nzimbi, The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi, The Church of the Province of Uganda
**The Rt Rev’d Johannes Seoka*, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Rev’d Canon Dr. Sami Fawzy Shehata*, Diocese of Egypt
*Representing the Province
** Absent during discussion of Communiqué due to travel schedule