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Weekly News Summary on Tuesday 7 July 2020

Posted on: July 7, 2020 4:26 PM
Related Categories: Global

Egyptian religious leaders welcome new Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria

The new Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria, whose inauguration was announced last week, has been described as “one of the pillars of religious dialogue and cultural interaction” in Egypt by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Tayeb.

In a message after the announcement was made, Sheilk Tayeb said that the Episcopal / Anglican Church in Egypt was one of the pillars of national coexistence and an active member of the Egyptian family. “We cherish the communication with the Anglican Church and the continuation of religious dialogue and cultural interaction between religions”, he said.

The new Province, named after the north Egyptian city of Alexandria, which is home to one of the earliest roots of Christianity, serves 10 countries: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Mauritania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Formed from the former Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, the first Primate and Archbishop of Alexandria is the Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis.

The formation of the new Province was also welcomed by the Council of Muslim Elders in Egypt. Its Secretary General, Dr Sultan al-Ramithi, sent a telegram to Archbishop Mouneer commending the role played by the Anglican Church in achieving dialogue and communication between East and West; and for its partnership in the Youth Forum for Peace initiative.

Congratulatory telegrams were also received from Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and from the Catholic Patriarch, Ibrahim Isaac.

Responding with thanks to the messages of support, Archbishop Mouneer expressed his hope that the new Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria would contribute to enhancing interaction between followers of different religions. He said that the messages of congratulations were a push to complete the journey of interfaith dialogue and joint work between the Episcopal Church and all Islamic religious institutions as well as between Christian communities.

Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes UN call for global ceasefire

The Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed last week’s unanimous call by the UN Security Council’s for a global ceasefire, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In doing so, Archbishop Justin Welby urged churches and other faith groups to lend their support.

Archbishop Justin, a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation, has written to representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States – urging them to go further than words and to actively promote peace.

“I now appeal to the Permanent Five members of the Security Council: lead the world and support the Secretary General in actively seeking to implement even this temporary peace, when trust can be built and reconciliation begin,” Archbishop Justin said in his letter.

He called on the countries to act “positively and with speed, responding to this crisis and this opportunity with the same selflessness that enabled [the UN’s] establishment after the great horrors of World War II.”

Archbishop Justin said that he would work with other faith leaders and communities around the world and “use all possible efforts to work with the UN in each of the areas affected by conflict; to seek peace and pursue it”, adding: “I will encourage other churches, faiths and ecumenical bodies to do the same.”

The call was echoed by Pope Francis in his Angelus message on Sunday (5 July). “The call for a global and immediate ceasefire is commendable, which would allow the peace and security essential to provide the humanitarian assistance so urgently needed,” Pope Francis said. Pope Francis called on world leaders to follow respond to the UN Security Council’s call “by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability.”

Today (Tuesday), Archbishop Justin spoke with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Tayeb, by video conference. The two leaders spoke of the need for joint action “more than ever” in light of the Covid-19 pandemic; and “the importance of the role of religious leaders, and the importance of cooperation between them in such crises.”

Sheikh Tayeb welcomed Archbishop Justin’s statement on the Global Ceasefire call, describing the Security Council’s resolution as “a hopeful step”.

Domestic Abuse cases increased during Covid-19 lockdown – Anglican Communion and Mothers’ Union say

There has been a sharp increase in incidents of domestic abuse since the global Covid-19 lockdown; a joint submission by the Anglican Consultative Council and the Mothers’ Union to the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says. In their submission, which was issued in response to the call for evidence by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, the two organisations outline the experience of Anglican churches around the world.

“Domestic abuse has steadily increased in countries across the Anglican Communion”, they say, “with particularly high prevalence noted in Uganda, South Africa and Liberia. New Zealand alone saw a 21 per cent spike in calls regarding domestic violence or the threat of violence, and Guyana has also seen an increase in gender-based violence, rising from 4-5 reported cases per day, to the current number of 4-5 cases per hour.”

The submission also looks at exemptions from lockdown restrictions for those suffering domestic violence. “In Southern Africa”, it says, “lockdown regulations are structured in such a manner that a women victim can leave her home to report abuse or apply for a court interdict without any fear of intimidation”. In contrast, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, “women must stay at home without exception, but arrangements may be made to transfer her from her home with the abuser into a family member’s home.”

The joint submission from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Mothers’ Union can be read on the webpage of the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations:

Virtual synod to debate new clergy discipline rules in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

A virtual meeting of the General Synod / Te Hīnota Whānui of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia later this month will discuss a proposed Bill to change the Province’s Title D procedures. If approved, the Bill will introduce a new Ministry Standards Commission that will support bishops with triage and handling of complaints made against any clergy or lay people that hold a license to minister in the church.

The proposed Commission will employ a legal registrar whose task will be to help bishops to assess complaints. In the case of unsatisfactory conduct, the Commission can offer bishops guidelines for action; and in the case of serious complaints of misconduct such as financial misdealings, or physical or sexual abuse, the Commission can forward the complaint to a Tribunal.

The proposed changes are designed to guarantee a consistent approach to disciplinary procedure and redress processes across the province.

Details of the changes have been set out in a 33-minute video by Archbishop Philip Richardson, the senior bishop of the New Zealand dioceses; Jeremy Johnson, Chancellor of the Diocese of Christchurch; and Bruce Gray QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Auckland and Legal Adviser to the Primates.

The one-day online meeting, on Saturday 25 July, replaces the full week-long 64th General Synod / Te Hīnota Whānui, which was postponed from 9 to 14 May 2020 because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa call for reconciliation over Nile dam

The Primates of the Anglican Provinces in Africa (Alexandria, Burundi, Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Southern Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and West Africa) have issued a joint call over proposals to fill a dam fed by the River Nile.

In a letter to the Council of Ministers of the Africa Union (AU), and copied to the Heads of State of AU member countries, the AU General Secretary and the AU Eminent Persons Group, Archbishop Albert Chama, Primate of the Anglican Province of Central Africa and Chair of CAPA, said that “We, the members of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) have been following with great concern the negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan with regard to the construction of the Ethiopian dam on the River Nile. We are sorry that negotiations, at the moment, are not leading to a satisfactory solution with regard to the filling of the dam reservoir.

“We, however, pray and urge the three countries of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to realise and accept the fact that the Nile is a gift from God to the people who are living along its banks and that each has a mutual responsibility to steward the river and its resources for the mutual benefit of all. We also pray that the nations of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia would celebrate the blessings of the Nile water and not to make it a source of dispute.

“We urge the governments of the three nations to think each other with respect to the opportunities of the use for the resources of the Nile so that no nation suffers as a result of the building of the dam or any other related activities. We are confident that a solution can be reached through friendly and mutual negotiations having in mind the value of the Nile as God’s gift and each other’s role as a steward of God’s gift.”

New Archbishop of York set to be confirmed in online legal ceremony

An ancient legal ceremony used to confirm the appointments of bishops in the Church of England will be held online this week for the first time, to confirm the appointment of the former Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, as the new Archbishop of York.

In the C of E, diocesan bishops are selected by the Crown Nominations Commission who send a proposed name to the Monarch, who serves as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, for approval. Once approved the name is announced by 10 Downing Street, the office of the Prime Minister. The Dean and Chapter – including the wider college of canons or prebendaries – of the diocesan cathedral are summoned to “elect” the chosen bishop. The legal ceremony – a mixture of worship and sworn statements of evidence – is then held to confirm the election.

The Confirmation of Election for Archbishop-designate Stephen was due to take place in York Minster, but has been switched to an online event because of the Covid-19 lockdown. It will take place on Thursday (9 July), at which point Bishop Stephen, a former member of the Anglican Consultative Council, will formally take on responsibility as Archbishop of York.