Choosing the wrong man in Upper Shire?

From Anglican Information:
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION has reported in previous editions the impasse in Upper Shire Diocese over the election of a new bishop. Unable to secure a majority at the original elections and against the wishes of the diocese, the Provincial Bishops have sought to appoint their own candidate, the Rev’d Brighton Malasa.

Malasa was originally scheduled to be approved at a Court of Confirmation to be held in Zimbabwe but this was cancelled after strong objections to the candidate and the holding of a Court outside Malawi. Now Malasa, is to be considered at a new Court of Confirmation to be held at the Diocesan headquarters in Malosa, Zomba on Thursday 16th April.

This second attempt represents an improvement in that priests and parishioners will be able to attend. Nevertheless, it also represents a serious conflict of interests for the Provincial Bishops in that they will be judging their own preferred candidate.
Serious objections continue regarding the extreme youth and inexperience of Malasa who at 30 years of age will become the youngest bishop in the entire Anglican Communion and possibly, we believe, in the world. Further, complaints about his financial dealings and personal life have been lodged with the Diocesan Registrar Justice James Kalaile who has significantly also been newly appointed to the Court of Appeal in Gambia.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION has been asked to publish the following objections from members of Brighton Malasa’s own parish – originally in the national language of Chichewa they translate into English as follows:

From: Members of SS Peter and Paul Cathedral
Mponda Parish
P.O. Box 54

To: The Returning Officer
P/Bag 1
Cc Diocesan Secretary and Archdeacon of Mangochi West


The Christians of the above named Church regarding the appointment of Rev. B. Malasa as Bishop of Upper – Shire by Provincial Bishops in Zambia on 17th December, 2008.

1. Rev. B. Malasa has not reached age to become bishop and doing so is making this diocese a playground and laughing stock.

2. He has no spirit of calling that is why he was not nominated (by the diocese of Upper Shire) when the nomination period came. He made a grave mistake by erasing the chosen names and writing in his own instead but still he did not survive the short listing.

3. He has no experience because he has served very few years, and that is why Anglican rites/traditions at the Cathedral have died completely since he was posted here.

4. He does not like to pray and no wonder on 24th December, 2008 at Midnight Mass he chased away Christians and there was no Mass.

5. Mattins and Evensong ended since he came, in fact the cathedral is not any longer a living church.

6. There is no cooperation between him and Executive and Church elders which is why the entire Executive resigned.

7. He does not account church property and finances. Many things at the Cathedral have disappeared since his coming here. He has wasted church funds.

8. Rev. B. Malasa drinks, without respecting himself, carelessly and shamefully and is an adulterer.

9. Previously, he announced here at Mpondasi Cathedral Church that he did not aspire for the bishopric because he is was young. Today we are surprised that is he has suddenly grown-up or become an adult now?

10. He will not co-operate with his fellow priests. How is the diocese going to function when there are divisions caused by him.

Therefore, it has shown already that while he has been Vicar General he has already, completely failed and he cannot manage the diocese because he is spiritually very poor.

With what we have written we at the Cathedral feel Rev. B. Malasa is not fit for this top-sacred position.

Signatories lodged with the Diocesan Registrar.

I am aware that some of these statements may be libellous. Nonetheless I reprint them as in the public domain and in an official document, but with no personal knowledge of the people concerned.

Yet the fact that they are libellous in itself is significant: no-one against whom such allegations are made publicly should be appointed bishop (or, for that matter, to any other position of public leadership) unless the allegations are publicly and sufficiently rebutted. These allegations are serious and question Mr Malasa'a faith and integrity.

If Brighton Malasa is appointed, and that appointment ratified without further enquiry and, in this case, the results of that enquiry being made public, then those who appoint him and those who ratify that appointment will, at the very least, be complicit in appointing a man in whom many people have no confidence and, at worse, are knowingly appointing a man wholly unsuited for the position.

It is not enough to receive sufficient votes, it is also important to be above reproach. It is not enough to have the support of other bishops, it is also essential to have sufficient goodwill from the laity, otherwise the work of being bishop can scarcely be done.

It is also an indictment of church order that our worship of bishops means that, once appointed, there is almost no means to critique or to constrain a bishop whose actions are inappropriate, ineffective, or plain wrong.

Becoming a bishop is like joining a gentlemen's club in Pall Mall - the only possible sanction is to be shunned by club members. The people over whom you have oversight are utterly irrelevant and powerless. And once in the episcopal club you can't be voted out.

1 comment:

  1. It's to be hoped that if the bishops do 'confirm' Malasa they will publish their reasons - but of course, they won't.

    This is a very small diocese and it is essential that the new bishop has the full confidence of the people, especially as he will potentially be there for 35 years!