The Malawi Nation Newspaper
From: ANGLICAN-INFORMATION Acting Dean Bishop of Albert Chama of the Anglican Central African Province with some of his fellow bishops is pursuing a high-risk strategy of forcing the confirmation of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda as Bishop of Lake Malawi. Kaulanda’s recent ‘election’ has divided the diocese and precipitated an unprecedented number of objections including a court injunction. This has all followed the never-resolved four year long case of the previously elected bishop the Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson, a London based priest, where the laity had held out against what they saw as a flawed rejection of Henderson at a Court of Confirmation in 2005.
Reported in the influential Malawi Nation newspaper on 25th September under a headline ‘Anglican bishops defy court order’, journalist Bright Sonani writes of the bishops defying the Court Injunction brought against them, as reported by us recently.
The article continues, ‘the bishops also threatened to commence criminal proceedings against leaders of the group objecting to Kaulanda’s confirmation’.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION says, this is a somewhat perverse and excessive response to a legitimate challenge, but interestingly the Malawi nation further reports: ‘Four bishops, led by Dean of the Province Albert Chama observed that the High Court in Malawi has no authority to stop the process as it is a church affair’… ‘the panel of four bishops also comprised Provincial Registrar Bob Stumbles (from Zimbabwe) and James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi’.
Readers can find the full text on our website together with that of the original injunction.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION comments that despite being graced by the much-respected figure of Vice Chancellor Bob Stumbles, who has had many legal run-ins with the civil authorities in Zimbabwe and in particular with renegade ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga of Harare; Bishop Albert Chama and his fellow bishops are treading in a legal minefield. If they attempt to bypass the Injunction they run the risk of exposing the Province to a legal confrontation under a ‘contempt of court’. This is an uncharted area of legal opinion and it is not possible, despite the bishops’ statement of defiance, to be sure that they are not acting ultra vires.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION considers that the Province of Central Africa has repeatedly, under Albert Chama’s oversight, been subject to forced episcopal authority, a cavalier interpretation of the Provincial canons and a reluctance to consult properly with the laity.
This state of affairs has undermined confidence in the Province to a serious extent. It is hardly surprising therefore that matters have been made worse by the still ‘lost file’ referring to the Lilongwe High Court injunction brought by lay leader Charles Wemba and his colleagues and reported by us in our last release. Priests and people in the Diocese of Lake Malawi are now openly questioning whether the Provincial Bishops, who would inevitably benefit from a suspension of the case due to a missing file, are in any way implicated in the ‘lost’ documentation. In the absence of any comment or explanation from Albert Chama and the bishops it is inevitable that more suspicions will be aroused, including those of the civil authorities whose jurisdiction the bishops have denied.
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