The Archbishop of Cape Town responds to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane released this statement today:

I am grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his lengthy and careful reflection on being an Anglican today, and look forward to considering this in detail.

However, I would like to stress that constant talk of schism from various quarters does not address the heart of the matter which is living with difference and otherness.

It is our nature as human beings to be diverse and therefore the modern world requires the church to deal with diversity. This reflects the unity and diversity we find within the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose image we are created.

We need to be tolerant of difference.

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa knows what it is to live with difference and otherness. We were born in conflict but, in spite of our problems and disagreements, we have agreed on the fundamentals and recognised that we are together despite our differences. You do not find us today divided into a black church and a white church, for example.

At present there is a lack of appreciation for the governing structures of the Anglican Communion. The worldwide Anglican Church is made up of autonomous provinces which make their own laws.

The Episcopal Church in the USA is one of the most democratic of our autonomous provinces. The Diocese of New Hampshire elected Bishop Gene Robinson democratically, according to their constitution and canons. The same can be said of the recent election of the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Those elections were not illegitimate within the rules of the American church which is an orderly church – as is our church in Southern Africa. There was a clear majority in favour of both candidates.

A proper understanding of how the institutional life of the Anglican Communion has served our spiritual life and ministry is fundamental to avoiding a knee-jerk resorting to talk of schism whenever any disagreements arise among us.

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