From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[ENS] Bishops bring African issues to the fore
"Mika Larson" <email@example.com>
Fri, 1 Aug 2003 07:55:52 -0400
July 31, 2003
Bishops bring African issues to the fore
by Michelle Gabriel
[ENS] As the Episcopal Church debates sexuality issues, the Archbishop
of South Africa, Winston Ndungane, stressed his unwavering support of
the church's legislative processes and the decisions that will be made
in Minneapolis at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
"Who am I to question the people of the United States about how to
interpret God's message?" he said. "I have a tremendous amount of
respect for the [consent] processes that take place [at convention]."
Ndungane was joined by the Bishop of Liberia, Edward Neufville, Canon
John Kanyiwa, the general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces
of Africa (CAPA), and Nema Oluku, coordinator of the CAPA AIDS program.
Although gay and lesbian initiatives were major points of interest
throughout much of the conference, the panel reminded attendees that
health and human justice issues have the same resonance in Africa as
sexuality has had throughout this convention.
"If I can shout it from the rooftops, Anglicans are obsessed with
sexuality," Ndungane said. There are many important issues in the world,
issues about life and death. I sometimes feel that this is an agenda
that seeks to distract us."
Neufville spoke about the difficulties his absence from Liberia poses to
his ability to minister to the people there.
"I have no way of accessing my country because airports are closed," he
said. "It is difficult for me to do anything on this side [of the
world]. This is why we are stressing the audience of [President Bush] as
a peacekeeping source."
When Kanyiwa returns to Liberia, he said his first action will be to
"assess the extent of the damage to institutions, assess the problems
and to see how we can respond to them - not just the [Episcopal] Church
of Liberia, but the people of Liberia."
Kanyiwa said hundreds of Liberians die each day of diseases such as
cholera or diarrhea, and most of the country's doctors have fled because
of the war. "The Episcopal Church [of America] can respond to this
urgent situation and provide food and medicine to [help us] survive," he
Another issue that plagues Anglicans in Africa is tension between
Christians and Muslims. Kanyiwa said that Christian-Muslim relations
varied from country to country, but that the dialogue between the two
groups is "easy" when Christians are the majority in the country. The
dialogue becomes more difficult in African countries where there is a
"Islam itself as a religion is not a problem," Kanyiwa said. "But Islam,
politicized, is a problem."
Oluku spoke about the AIDS initiatives in Kenya, which she said she
hopes will be as successful as those in Uganda have been. But fighting
AIDS requires great changes in the lifestyles of the people, which can
be difficult to maintain, she said. Oluku asked that people remember the
children orphaned because of the AIDS pandemic in their prayers.
Amid discussions of the dire poverty and crippling diseases that plagues
Africa, Ndungane stressed the importance of understanding and respecting
the problems Anglicans face worldwide - whether they are struggling with
gay and lesbian issues or inequality or hunger. "What we lack today in
our world of controversial issues is listening with empathy and with
one's heart," he said.
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