‘Bring your wisdom to next meeting’
by Ed Thornton
December 25, 2010
“Turn up and make your voice heard”: Archbishop Idowu-Fearon AP
Writing in the Church Times today, the Bishop of Kaduna, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor report, pleads with the Primates “not . . . to give room for the Communion to break up, during the time God has given [them] the privilege to represent [their] various provinces”.
“An archbishop may hold a strong position on a particular theological debate, but that should not be a reason to silence those of his colleagues with an alternative opinion as representatives of their dioceses,” Dr Idowu-Fearon writes.
Speaking on Friday, he said that his intervention was not prompted by pressure from any individual, “but by my conviction to work for the unity of this communion”.
He said that he feared that some of the Primates had “not actually consulted properly” before announcing their intention to boycott the meeting. There was “a huge desire” among “ordinary members” of the Church of Nigeria for the Communion to stay together, he said.
Responding to the suggestion made by the Primates that “the current text” of the Anglican Covenant is “fatally flawed”, Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “If those Primates believe they have a superior wisdom than the collective wisdom of those who produced the Covenant, let them meet and present their wisdom and not start throwing tantrums.”
In his article, Dr Idowu-Fearon writes: “History reminds us that all the 22 Councils of the Christian Church contained both those in favour and those against the subjects under discussion, and that the discussions were not always eirenic.”
He argues that meetings such as the Council of Chalcedon in 451 were called “precisely because people disagreed . . . where would the Church be today if ‘orthodox’ bishops had stayed away from the main councils of the Church?”
Dr Idowu-Fearon said he had sent a copy of the article to the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, and intended to talk to him.
He admitted that “some of these Primates would hardly give the idea of not going a second thought”, but said: “The Lord can do anything.”
This item, from the Christmas issue of the U.K. Church Times, was too good to miss. Here we have the story of a Nigerian Bishop brave enough to challenge the Primate of All Nigeria – and other Primates of the ‘Global South’ who have declared their intention to boycott the next Primates Meeting in Ireland in 2011 – to abandon their initial decision: not to attend and take part in that important meeting.
It is good to note that at least one Bishop in Nigeria recognises the value of conciliar relationships within the Communion. Having been a member of the original Windsor Group, he is not averse to further discussion of the issues that divide the Communion, believing that ongoing dialogue is the best way forward from the possibilities of further schismatic action by the opponents of TEC and theA.C.of C.
Fr. Ron Smith