Storms over Lake Malawi?
In a sworn affidavit presented on behalf of 150 named laity of the Diocese of Lake Malawi, representing 19 of the 33 parishes, grounds of objection have been lodged prior to the Court of Confirmation to be held next month.
On behalf of the objectors, Solsten Kalize of Salima Parish, Mabel Ngoma of Lingadzi Parish and Charles Wemba also of Lingadzi Parish have offered ‘Grounds of objection to the election of the Venerable Francis Frank Kaulanda as Bishop of Lake Malawi’. There follows a notice ‘pursuant to Canon 7:4’ of the Canons of the Province allowing for objections. The affidavit contains a list of the 150 petitioners and their addresses and parishes.
This unprecedented large petition from over half the parishes of the diocese represents a serious expression of division in the Diocese of Lake Malawi about what many see as an imposed candidate. All elections produce objections there were five objectors for example from one parish when the Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson was previously elected but this petition dwarfs all others.
The petition ends with six points asking that the Bishops should not confirm the election of Kaulanda. Further there is a request (denied in the November 2005 Court of Confirmation) that the Court be properly open to the public and held (a reference to previous examples of holding elections and confirmations outside the home diocese) in a place accessible to the people.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that root of what is now a serious problem can be traced back to the failure of the Provincial Bishops to ensure that the Court of Confirmation following the election of the previous candidate in the person of the Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson of London was properly concluded. This is despite four years of struggle by the people of the Diocese of Lake Malawi to get the now infamous Court of November 2005 which declared Dr. Henderson to be of ‘unsound faith’ properly assessed in an independent Provincial Court. All parties, under the then Deanship of Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana, had previously agreed an independent examination of the conduct of the Court of Confirmation. However, Mwamba was sacked by the then Archbishop Bernard Malango who was reluctant to have the Court examined.
However, under Mwamba’s replacement, the current acting Dean Albert Chama of Northern Zambia, in what looks like an autocratic style of leadership, has effectively forced a new election bypassing any independent investigations. A powerful laity, as the latest petition indicates, are unhappy with the situation and inevitably the legitimacy of Francis Kaulanda’s election remains questionable in their eyes.
The petitioners object to Kaulanda’s election on grounds of incompetence and immorality the latter referring to a failure to account for monies meant for Church projects as part of a USPG Project Fund between 2000 and 2001 whilst Kaulanda was Archdeacon of Nkhota-kota.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION considers that the Bishops will eventually dismiss the petition but they will do so at great cost to the Diocese of Lake Malawi. The unprecedented large number of objectors, avoidance of the accountability of the House of Bishops and an unresolved previous election do not make for a well-ordered and accountable Province management. Calls to end the long-running saga are heartfelt and many but unless the Bishops act in a way that is seen as legitimate, fair and just, trouble will continue indefinitely and the Diocese will remain divided.
The full petition is available on Anglican Information's website: www.anglican-information-archive.org - navigate to: ‘The inside view – letters and articles and items’.
Upper Shire Diocese, Malawi – recriminations: Reports are reaching us of ‘bullying and intimidation’ by the new young Bishop of Upper Shire, Brighton Malasa. This is of some of the older priests who did not support his election. He has been visiting them to ‘sort them out’ and complain, which is a strange way of conducting episcopal oversight.
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