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Rwandan revamp of Anglican ecclesiology: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 8, 2010 p 8. October 8, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Global South.

The Rev. Dr. Kevin Donlon of the Global South Anglican Theological Formation and Education Task Force at the 2008 Gafcon conference in Jerusalem

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The new Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, has vowed to carry on the policies of his predecessor, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, and push for the reform of the Anglican Communion.

In an interview with the New Times of Kigali published last week, the new archbishop, who will take office in January said he would hold fast to the church’s traditional teachings on human sexuality.

“Anything that is contrary to God’s family set-up is not acceptable; there is nowhere in the Bible where same-sex marriage is encouraged. God created a man and woman to be the basis of a family,” the archbishop said.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda has also been at the forefront of the reform movement within the Anglican Communion.  While it supports in principle the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Covenant process, it has been less than enthusiastic about how such a structure might work, given the anarchy now prevalent across the Communion.

At the All African Bishops Meeting in Entebbe in August, discussion of the Anglican Covenant among the gathered bishops took a decided second place to the conciliar programme for a renewed Anglican ecclesiology propounded by Rwanda and the Global South group of churches.

An August 2008 paper prepared by Dr. Kevin Donlon, an American priest of the AMiA, and a member of the Global South Anglican Theological Formation and Education Task Force, argued the Covenant was yesterday’s solution to today’s problems.

The paper, entitled The Challenges of Covenant and Canons for the Future of a Ius Commune Anglicanae, concluded: “The Covenant as an instrument by itself fails to address the fullness of the conciliar tradition that needs to be regained by Anglicans.  A church rooted in the catholic heritage is called to be church rooted in the claims a deposit of faith that includes a canonical and conciliar tradition that is one of the marks of the church since the Apostolic Period.”

“Anglicanism abandoned a conciliar and canonical understanding of the church when Henry Tudor ascribed all legislative responsibility to the Parliament at the Reformation. A draft of a Covenant without a canonical and conciliar structure illustrates once again that Anglican leaders seem unable to grasp the conciliar nature of the Church.”

Frustration with the present model of “instruments of Communion” and objections to an international church that centered round the authority of an English bishop not accountable to the wider church, has fueled discussion within the Global South about new ways of ordering the church.

“A new model for a new day is required where conversations about Canons and Covenants are not simply the speculation of non-binding conferences that insure autonomy over and above authority. The blending of covenant and canon is a way to embrace the conciliar model where matters of faith and practice at all levels of the Church come into an expression of praxis that is framed in a theology of the church that is biblical, Christological, salvific historical and ecclesiological in character consistent for the ages,” Dr. Donlon concluded.

Correction: The CEN’s Sept 24 report of Archbishop Rwaje’s election as the new primate of Rwanda stated that at the time of the 1994 Genocide, Bishop Rwaje was spirited across the border by a Hutu officer.  This report was inaccurate, as it was a different bishop who was thus rescued.  Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini also writes that tribal identification is frowned upon within the Anglican Church of Rwanda.


1. Robin G. Jordan - October 8, 2010

I wonder what Kevin Donlan has in mind when he speaks of “a new model for a new day.” I have finished a careful study of the new Rwandan canons and the Anglican Mission canonical charter. They evidence the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law in language, doctrine, norms, and principles. In a number of places the Rwandan canons clearly are repudiation of the Thirty-Nine Articles and of authentic historic Anglicanism, and embrace in their place the dogmas of the Council of Trent. The provisions governing the relationship of the Rwandan Primate with Anglican Primatial Vicar Chuck Murphy are based upon the provisions of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law governing the relationship of the Pope to lesser bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. This causes me also to wonder what part Donlan himself played in their formulation. I have on good authority that both documents were prepared by a former Roman Catholic priest. I do not know a whole lot about Donlan except that he comes from an Irish Catholic background and entered a Roman Catholic seminary at the age of 12 and left the seminary at the age of 24. He has a degree in canon law from Cardiff University and a doctorate in church history from Oxford. He was 30 years old when he left the Roman Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church. If Donlan’s “new model for a new day” is the old model of the Roman Catholic Church, I personally want nothing to do with it. Any Anglican body that adopted that model in my mind would cease to be Anglican.

2. Anglican Mainstream South Africa » Blog Archive » Rwandan revamp of Anglican ecclesiology - October 12, 2010

[…] Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Global South. […]

3. Margaret Price - October 24, 2010

Kevin didn’t leave the Roman Catholic church so that he could join the Anglican church. He was refused ordination and ended up without a road to the priesthood. He became an Episcopal priest as the only close second choice left to him. And he became an AMIA priest after he was inhibited by the ECUSA had inhibited him for charges of conduct unbecoming a clergyman. Rather than going through the process of investigation, he jumped ship again.

Monsignor Desmond Daly - October 28, 2010

Margaret, your comment about Kevin is quite unfair, not to mention uncharitable. You just don’t know the man. Canon Kevin Donlon is one of the finest priests I have met in my forty-four years of priesthood. He has the heart of a pastor, a man whose extraordinary abilities and talents are being accessed regularly by Christian groups and ecclesial authorities throughout the world. They listen to him, and take him very seriously.

Margaret - December 4, 2010

Actually I know him as a man better than most anyone. I know he is taken very seriously and that he takes himself very seriously. He talks a good talk and is very charismatic. He also crossed the line with me when I was a parishioner, groomed me, and then exploited me in every way. I have travelled a long way and have found forgivness. But he has never been repentant and his history is as I stated. I pray for him and his congregants, and his ministry every day.

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