Central African bishops anger laity in Lake Malawi Diocese as injunction brought to stop consecration

It seems that just about anything can happen in Malawi, but the bishops haven't gone this far - yet.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that the Provincial Bishops of the Central African Province have once again managed to aggravate the laity and mismanage a Court of Confirmation for the Diocese of Lake Malawi and Northern Malawi.

Further to our last communication revealing suspect motivation on the part of some of the bishops an increasingly hostile laity are now accusing them of manipulating elections for bishops in Malawi. In turn the bishops have now released a statement published by the Anglican Communion News service dated 24th September:
www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2009/9/24/ACNS4657 in which they explain their position insisting that their actions in calling a Court of Confirmation following the election of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda for Lake Malawi and Fr Leslie Mtekateka for Northern Malawi have been properly conducted. In this they acknowledge that an injunction brought in the High Court of Malawi could stop the consecrations.

respectfully observes that the Provincial Bishops, under the oversight of acting Dean Albert Chama, are becoming dangerously isolated from the realities of strong lay sentiment in the dioceses of Malawi. A command style of episcopal leadership seems irrelevant and anachronistic in a world where even in Central Africa easy access to modern communications is revolutionising the balance of power in a direction more familiar to other parts of the Anglican Communion. As lessons learned from the past tumultuous four years show, the episcopal bench must become more accountable and in touch with the people. Current magisterial policy has produced a near farcical and embarrassing situation for the Anglican Church in an area where it should be strong and confident to proclaim the Gospel.

In this respect
reports that in today’s edition of the influential English language Malawi Nation Newspaper, page 3 headlines ‘Anglican Bishops defy Court Order’. The article goes on ‘Anglican bishops of the Central African Province on Wednesday defied a High Court injunction obtained by church members earlier and went ahead to confirm Francis Kaulanda as the new bishop of the Malawi Diocese.’ Also in the comment section ‘Anglicans sending wrong signals’ and ‘bishops threaten criminal proceedings against those who sought the injunction.’

comments: As the House of Laity do not as yet have the benefit of the Anglican Communion News Service to put their point we are glad to publish for them – readers will understand that English is not the first language of the objectors.

Communication from Mr Charles Wemba a representative of the Laity in the Diocese of Lake Malawi.
Due to the urgency of the matter I have to send this email to avoid further confusion amongst faithful Christians. We the objectors stopped the Court of Confirmation to hear our objection by serving an injunction. We did so because it was a CLOSED court (the Court of Confirmation). Objectors were NOT invited. Since we sent our objections to the Dean, Registrar and others; the next communication that took place was on 20th Sep, 2009 at St Thomas Church only (in Lilongwe the capital city), announcing that the Confirmation was scheduled on 22nd Sep 2009 only two days later (leaving insufficient time for objectors to travel from rural villages). The Confirmation date was set in such a way that all Objectors that are employed should never have an opportunity to come and object.

Should we expect ordinary Christians to travel from their respective villages to a very far away distance in Lilongwe ? We understand that Bishop William Mchombo has been encouraging the Vicar General Nkoko never to get worried since everything was set for the good of Francis Kaulanda.

Bishop James Tengatenga (of South Malawi) and the acting Dean Albert Chama took us to task. They said to me, “to hell with the injunction” and that “we are ready to be taken to court”.

Well, it is a shame for Church leaders to say such things. After all, we, the objectors are trying to bring them back to God’s track. The bishops think that their faiths and knowledge surpasses all people in Church. I even told the bishops that they were NOT behaving in a Christian way. By the look of things, the bishops have made up their minds not to understand. They are there to fight against the House of Laity at all costs. But remember, even if 149 objectors withdrew their names, that will not make Kaulanda posses academic qualifications
are complaints that his qualifications are invalid) or make the incomplete building structures (in the diocese) go to a finish level. We know why they have changed their minds. Bribery!! If the Dean thinks there is no angel to fill the vacancy, why was Nicholas (The Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson of London, U.K., the previous bishop-elect) rejected? The current elections were done in such a way that objectors should never have any chances to reject the candidate of the bishops choice.

The House of Bishops and Clergy must know that it is better to have no bishop not only for the next 20 years than to have a rubber stamp bishop. These spiritual tasks must have meanings not for the sake of filling the gaps. If someone is after the position of the Archbishop by filling the vacancies here in Malawi
(a reference to acting Dean Chama)
in a corrupt way, then be ready for the toughest struggle.

Looking at the trend of this issue, it is going tribal. If this tribalism is not observed and addressed, it will not be easy to stop it. There is no way we can have one bishop-elect to come from all the districts of Malawi . We need someone who satisfies requirements in the Canons (not a cheater) and who will unit all Anglicans. We need the Archbishops/Bishops to be helping us in body and soul and not to corrupt people.

observes that tribalism whilst not as strong in Malawi as in some other parts of Africa is increasingly dividing Malawian Christians, which is one reason why the people’s choice is often for a neutral bishop from outside the country.

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  1. As usual, good for Anglican Information for being what they say they are 'A voiced for the voiceless'. Whilst the bishops can call upon the services of the likes of the Anglican Communion News Service, the poor old laity have had no mouthpiece - until now.

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