In April of this year the Kenya Forum shone a spotlight on the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the 78 million Christians that make up the worldwide Anglican community, of which there are over 36 million in Sub-Saharan Africa and 1.5 million in Kenya, and in particular the prospect of Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu, currently the Archbishop of York, being appointed.
In effect we said then that the politics of then next Archbishop of Canterbury (the 105th in the Church’s history), not his ability, intellect or devoutness, would probably decide the issue. It looks like we were right.
‘LIBERALS’ AGAINST ‘TRADITIONALISTS’
The decision as to who will replace the current Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams who retires in December, will be taken in London by the Crown Nominations Commission, which in turn is dominated by ‘liberal-leaning’ church leaders who come mainly from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt has said that the voices of 55 million Anglicans across the whole of the African continent are not being heard. “The voice of the Anglican Communion outside England is not counted as being important”, he said and that the decision-making process, “is a colonial approach” (Sunday Nation, October 14).
Dr Sentamu is described as a ‘traditionalist’. He has opposed ‘gay marriage’ in church and been lukewarm in supporting the ordination of women. Agree with him or not, Dr Sentamu’s views reflect African Anglican sentiment more than those of the ‘liberals’ but that will not help him be appointed, it will count against him.
KING HENRY VIII, POLITICS, AND MARRIAGE
The Anglican Church was formed against the background of the protestant Reformation nearly 500 years ago but back then the politics of the day in England was intricately interwoven in the church’s development.
England’s then King, Henry VIII, wanted to divorce his wife Catherine and marry one Anne Boleyn but Pope Clement III would not allow the divorce, so Henry set up his own church to get round the problem. The marriage to Anne went ahead, not that in the long term it did her much good – Henry had her head cut off in 1536!
It is mildly ironic that nearly five centuries later, the Anglican Church is again making a decision, the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, based on the politics of marriage, this time ‘gay marriage’!