Ugandan fury at Lambeth Conference session: CEN 7.29.08 July 30, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Lambeth 2008.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had no hand in inviting a deposed Ugandan bishop to address a scheduled session of the Lambeth Conference.
Dr. Rowan Williams said he “wasn’t aware of this” invitation to the Rt. Rev. Christopher Ssenyonjo to participate in a self-select group scheduled for July 22 entitled “Disciplined Listening: Building Relationships and Fostering Communion.”
The invitation to Bishop Ssenyonjo, the second Bishop of West Buganda is a matter of grave concern, the Church of Uganda tells The Church of England Newspaper. Its bishops have boycotted the conference due to the presence of the American and Canadian bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson.
A supporter the pressure group Integrity—which seeks to change the church’s stance on homosexual conduct, Bishop Ssenyonjo retired in 1999. The Church of Uganda deposed him on Jan 17, 2007 for consecrating as bishop a Church of Uganda priest for a independent denomination called the Charismatic Church of Uganda.
Bishop Ssenyonjo was deposed because of his consecration of a Ugandan priest “under discipline,” a Ugandan spokesman said. “One of the co-consecrators was another deposed Uganda Bishop, the former bishop of North Mbale. He had been deposed because he took a second wife. So, Ssenyonjo was not deposed because of his association with Integrity.”
On July 11 the Church of Uganda released a statement saying it had been assured by Lambeth Palace that Bishop Ssenyonjo “will not be seated with Bishops at the Lambeth Conference and will not participate in the deliberations during the Conference.”
The statement was released after a Kampala newspaper New Vision reported on July 7 that Ssenyonjo, the second bishop of West Buganda, would be the sole Ugandan bishop attending the Lambeth Conference.
The church’s provincial secretary, Canon Aaron Mwesigye, said, “We can only conclude that Christopher Ssenyonjo was invited by one of the gay lobby groups to be part of their demonstrations. He would, after all, need a letter of invitation from someone to get a UK visa.”
However, the “Official Programme & Event Guide” for the Lambeth Conference listed the self-select session on the official conference agenda, and Bishop Ssenyonjo was granted access to the bishops-only area of the conference on the tightly policed campus, prompting queries from the Church of Uganda.
On July 25, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the press he had no knowledge of the issue, and a conference spokesman conceded a mistake had been made in granting Bishop Ssenyonjo access to the bishops-only areas.
Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark had sponsored the self-select session, the conference spokesman noted, but had withdrawn before the conference after organizers questioned Bishops Ssenyonjo’s presence. However, there had been a lapse in communications and the session was not withdrawn from the agenda and Bishop Ssenyonjo was welcomed to the conference.
The spokesman noted that “Bishop Beckwith was surprised to see it on the programme” and carried forward with the event. However, “no one else attended came” and the “session was not held.”