From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[ENS] Observer provides Anglican voice at U.N.
"Mika Larson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thu, 7 Aug 2003 18:24:07 -0400
August 7, 2003
by Sharon Sheridan
[ENS] The new Anglican Observer to the United Nations arrived in New
York from her home in Samoa days before terrorists leveled the twin
towers of the World Trade Center. In the tense days that followed, the
contingent from her province - including her presiding bishop - could
not attend her installation on Sept. 16, 2001, at the Cathedral Church
of St. John the Divine.
Coming from a very peaceful part of the world, Archdeacon Taimalelagi
Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Matalavea said she believes her Sept. 11
experience was God's way of telling her she must identify with the pain
of many people.
The observer represents the views of the Anglican Church's primates, the
Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council at the
United Nations. At General Convention, she has been making connections,
meeting potential supporters and thanking current ones.
Tuatagaloa-Matalavea has examined all the convention resolution issues
that her office could cover - if it had the staff, she said. Because the
office is small, it must focus its efforts, she said. It currently
concentrates on issues of women and children; sustainable development,
especially concerning the environment; international trade and debt;
indigenous peoples; and world conflicts. This continues some emphases of
previous observers, she noted. "I want some continuity."
The primates and Anglican Consultative Council also "flag" her to
address particular issues, she said. During the Iraq crisis, she worked
closely with international institutions and ecumenical partners in a
"We actually tried to stop the war," she said. This included lobbying
efforts - writing letters and speaking with members of the Security
Council. She worked to convey the communion's stand on the conflict. "I
also had a statement when the war broke out," she said.
U.S. actions greatly influence what happens on the world stage, so one
of her goals at this convention has been to talk with people about their
role as U.S. citizens in their own foreign policies,
At the United Nations, she has also worked ecumenically to address the
crisis in Liberia. On Tuesday, when peacekeeping forces arrived in
Liberia, she said, "I felt like dancing in my room, watching those women
dancing when they saw the armed forces landing."
That happiness balanced her concern that the church's consent that same
day to the election of its first openly gay bishop might divide the
communion, she said.
During convention, Tuatagaloa-Matalavea addressed a group of young
people, whom she invited to visit her office. More than 40 signed up to
come, and she plans to work with Thom Chu, program director of the Youth
Ministries Cluster at the church center, to develop a program for their
visit. Perhaps youth can convince the U.S. Congress to consider the
international convention to eliminate all forms of discrimination
against women, which the United States has yet to ratify, she said.
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