From the Anglican Communion News Service, an article about someone claiming to be a bishop of the church who is not really, dioceses trying to hold on to their property for the benefit of future generations of Anglicans, and alternative episcopal activities by one who has decided that he is right and the (real) Anglicans are wrong. Perhaps we should send a copy of it to the judge who is ruling on the property disputes between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the folks who have migrated to ACNA, with episcopal relationships with provinces in Africa.
Letter from the Church of the Province of Central Africa
Posted On : September 4, 2009 12:44 PM Posted By : WebmasterACNS: http://www.aco.org/acns/news.cfm/2009/9/4/ACNS4649Related Categories: Central Africa
The Church of the Province of Central Africa has asked that thefollowing letter from the Dean of the Province be circulated by ACNS:
It is with increasing concern that we, the Bishops of the Anglican bodyof the Church ofthe Province of Central Africa (CPCA) note the ongoing involvement ofthe Law Courts in Zimbabwe in respect of numerous cases instituted aboutthe status of Nolbert Kunonga vis-à-vis the CPCA and his rights to ourproperty.
We are not alone in expressing concern. The Council of AnglicanProvinces in Africa (CAPA) voiced their astonishment at a meeting heldin Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009 and recorded their earlier views,stating:
"As representatives of the Anglican Communion, we re-iterate that we donot recognise the status of Bishop Norbert (sic) Kunonga and BishopElson Jakazi as bishops within the Anglican Communion, and call for thefull restoration of Anglican property within Zimbabwe to the Church ofthe Province of Central Africa".
This statement reflects the true and lawful position. It also echoesthe sentiments of the Anglican Communion worldwide, members of whom arefrankly shocked by the conclusions and decisions given in some of thejudgments of the courts in favour of Kunonga, a man who has abandonedthe Anglican faith and the CPCA. It would seem a few of the learnedjudges (and magistrates) are either under some misconception orunwittingly ignore the true situation.
We have therefore deemed it appropriate to draw attention respectfullyto the following in order to put beyond doubt the factual, legal andecclesiastical position:-
1. The CPCA is a multinational body covering Botswana, Malawi,Zambia and Zimbabwe, whose laws are transnationally binding upon itsmembers.
2. Its laws, like those of any other similar organisation, are notavailable to be used by any person who is not a member of the body ofthe CPCA.
3. Likewise, its property and assets, like any other similarorganisation, belong to it and cannot be usurped, removed or unlawfullyused by anyone outside its membership.
4. The Diocese of Harare (the Diocese), its property and assets,form an integral, permanent part of the body of CPCA, as do all theother dioceses and their assets in the Province.
5. The CPCA laws call on bishops, before taking office, to swearthat they will be bound by, and govern their diocese in conformity withthe laws and canons, Acts and other regulations of the Province andtheir diocese.
6. On the 21st September 2007, Nolbert Kunonga willfully broke hiscanonical oath and unilaterally, formally and intentionally chose tobreak away and cut all ties with the CPCA. He had irrevocably exitedfrom and would have nothing more to do with us.
7. His departure and cessation of membership was noted and acceptedby the CPCA.
8. The result of his action was that he not only forfeited hismembership and had no status nor rights within the CPCA but also ceasedautomatically to be a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Morethan that, he was no longer an Anglican Bishop and therefore there was avacancy in the See of the Diocese. Anglican officials and Anglicansthroughout the world acknowledged that this is the situation.
9. We wrote to Nolbert Kunonga to vacate our property and assets inthe Diocese and make them available to us. He ignored our request. Hestill uses the property, assets and money of the Diocese for his ownpurposes. In our respectful submission, Nolbert Kunonga is acting as atrespasser on our property and his undoubtedly unlawful use of our fundsand assets is tantamount to theft. And his claim to be bishop of theDiocese is a deliberate misrepresentation amounting to falsehood as ishis claim to be an Anglican.
10. Instead of withdrawing peacefully and without demur, NolbertKunonga and a few non-Anglican collaborators commenced a programme ofsustained threats, intimidation and assaults on members of the CPCA,depriving them of access to worship in the parish churches or even onthe premises of the Diocese.
11. By breaking away from the CPCA, Nolbert Kunonga committed theact of schism. To underscore this, Nolbert Kunonga, on the 15th March2008, formed his own church. He proclaimed himself Archbishop of hisorganisation and appointed 4 or 5 non-Anglican colleagues as bishops.This defiant move of Nolbert Kunonga is a classic case of schism;entering into membership of a (presumably) religious body not incommunion with the CPCA. Thus he has overtly given his allegiance to anorganisation separate from and not recognized by the Anglican Communion.
12. To put the position of Nolbert Kunonga firmly into anunmistakable category after he declared the formation of his own church,we let it be known on the 12th May 2008 that his status is that of aperson excommunicated from the CPCA and the Anglican Communionthroughout the world.
We find it incredible that the establishment of his own church byNolbert Kunonga doesnot seem, with respect, to resonate in the minds of some of the learnedjudges inZimbabwe hearing the cases before them on Nolbert Kunonga. Surely, theexistence of his own organisation must put beyond all possible doubt the fact theNolbert Kunonga asa result of his own actions and behaviour cannot lay claim to any rightto be a bishop in,and have control over, property of the CPCA in the Diocese. He has nowmade himselfArchbishop of an organisation in opposition to and not recognized by theCPCA. Hewould have had a conflict of interests if he had not already given upmembership of theCPCA.
>From a theological point of view a judgment cannot interfere with faithwhich iscontrolled by an individual's conscience. Faith cannot be testedovertly nor imposedupon a person by a court order. This is why in the Anglican Church lawshave beenspecially promulgated to facilitate the propagation by priests andothers of the Christian faith. Those persons who choose to beAnglicans willingly, subject themselves to the faith, worship,teachings, format and rules, fellowship, mutual support, theproclamation of the Gospel and the care of God's people in love andfaith as prescribed in our Canons, Acts and other laws. These arespiritual andecclesiastical aspects outside the scope of the Common LawCourts. Nolbert Kunonga withdrew his membership from this organisationvoluntarily. But this does not give him, nor the courts, the right toinsist that CPCA members must follow him and change their faith andallegiance to the CPCA. No one has the right to restrict, prevent orprohibit Anglicans from worshipping in their Churches of the Diocese asthey have done peacefully and respectfully for many years.
We now earnestly seek your kind consideration of the above facts andcomments and areemboldened, by the worldwide support we have received, to believe theonly conclusionyou can reach is that -
A. Nolbert Kunonga is not a member of the CPCA; is not an Anglicanbishop in the Diocese; and has no right to occupy or use the Anglicanassets in the Diocese; and
B. Nolbert Kunonga has elected to become Archbishop of anorganisation he has formed and which is not recognised by the AnglicanCommunion Worldwide; and he has been excommunicated from the CPCA andthe Anglican Communion internationally; and
C. The CPCA is an organisation not confined to Zimbabwe but istransnational and recognized internationally; and
D. In view of all of the above, the civil courts have nojurisdiction to deal with issues pertaining to the status of NolbertKunonga vis-à-vis the CPCA and the Anglican communion and, in any event,Nolbert Kunonga has no locus standi to be a party to pleadings in anycivil court because, by his own admission, he has abandoned and severedhis links with the CPCA and formed his own church which is a separateentity in no way connected to the CPCA.
To bring this epistle up to date, we have pleasure in announcing that,to internationalacclamation and in accordance with the laws of the CPCA and otherecclesiastical laws,Dr Chad Nicholas Gandiya, having been duly elected in June 2009, wasconsecrated andordained within our Province as an Anglican Bishop recognized worldwideon the 26thJuly 2009. The ceremony was witnessed by numerous bishops and wellover 10,000others who were in attendance. He was enthroned on that same day in theSee of theDiocese of Harare.
After Nolbert Kunonga had left the CPCA and the Diocese and until thismomentousenthronement of Bishop Gandiya occurred, Bishop Dr. Sebastian Bakare hadacted ascaretaker Vicar General/Bishop of the Diocese of Harare from November2007, a role hefilled with distinction and success. Bishop Bakare had been called uponto administerpastorally and otherwise after Nolbert Kunonga left the Dioceseeffectively on the 4thAugust 2007.
We, the Bishops of the CPCA, hereby draw to your attention yet anotherapplication justlaunched by Nolbert Kunonga. Although he has nothing to do with, anddisassociatedhimself from the CPCA and formed his own church/organisation, in hislatest applicationhe asks the honourable High Court in Zimbabwe to set aside theconsecration andenthronement of Bishop Chad Nicholas Gandiya as the Bishop of theDiocese of Harareand for the court to pronounce that he, Nolbert Kunonga, is still bishopof that diocese!
We re-iterate our firm belief that Nolbert Kunonga has no locus standito appear before,and be recognized by the courts. It is our strong contention that thecourts in Zimbabwe have no jurisdiction to interfere with the procedureand decisions legitimately made by the transnational CPCA. We trustthat the application will be dismissed on these grounds.
Such a decision will remove the strong perception held by us and mostinterested persons, locally and internationally, namely that thehonourable Courts in Zimbabwe appear to be minded for reasons best knownto themselves, to ignore the lack of status of Nolbert Kunonga and thequestion of jurisdiction and to presume to rule upon the internal,domestic, spiritual, theological, administrative and Church affairs ofthe CPCA.
We sincerely call upon the courts to heed our concerns so that thechapter on thebehaviour and demands and absence of status of Nolbert Kunonga in theAnglicanChurch can finally be closed.
Dated on this, the 1st day of August in the Year of Our Lord 2009.
The Rt Revd Albert ChamaDEAN OF THE CHURCH OF THE PROVINCE OF CENTRAL AFRICA