The Rev Richard Kirker, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has been quoted on the Ecclesia website as saying that the real driving force behind what has been going on in Nigeria vis a vis the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.
Is this, one wonders, yet another example of the Christian blogosphere turning rumour into 'fact' on which to base speculation?
The original story on which this is based comes from the Church of England Newspaper, and is also on the Religious Intelligence website. This says that information has been received about the possibile appointment of a Nigerian 'flying bishop' for England, from what is called, "A source describing himself as a ‘worker in the Nigerian diocese’" (italics added). In the next breath, though, this 'source' becomes "a clergy member". But whilst every clergy person in the Church ought to be a worker (the source's own self-description), not every 'worker' is a member of the clergy. So which is the source? There is at least some uncertainty here.
That point notwithstanding, though, this is enough for Richard Kirker to be able to join the dots because, "It has been clear for some time that under the guidance of Peter Jensen (the Archbishop of Sydney) the Nigerian Church has been distancing itself from the Church of England and particularly the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury."
At this point, however, we might ask, 'clear' from what evidence, and for how long?
The idea that whereas once Australia was part of the Diocese of Calcutta, now Nigeria is being controlled by Sydney is a drum Richard Kirker has certainly been banging "for some time".
In an article in the Gay Times for January 2004, he wrote,
"The whole matter of how the Anglican Church will now realign itself is fascinating. Some believe the driving force for this is the Archbishop of Sydney Philip Jensen [sic, also Phillip would be spelt with two 'l's]. Jensen's is undoubtedly amongst the richest and most conservative diocese in the Anglican world, with over $3 billion dollars of assets. Some say he is the 'Kingmaker' and his recent threats to recognize Archbishop Akinola as the Moral leader of Anglicanism, and to ignore Rowan Williams, are the opening shots in his plan."
So, "some believe" this, and "some say" that. And some imagine from this that Sydney Diocese has a A$3 billion 'fighting fund' which isn't tied up in buildings and which they don't have to spend on things like paying the clergy and getting on with mission. But is there anyone else as convinced of this as Richard Kirker, and is there any evidence for these assertions?
Of course, I may be wrong. It may be that Peter Jensen is indeed plotting to replace Rowan Williams, making Peter Akinola the moral leader of Anglicanism, with himself as the real power behind the throne. Who knows? Come to that have they ever actually been seen in the same place at the same time? Have they ever been photographed together? Holy Clark Kent, things may be worse , even, than Richard Kirker thinks!
Or it may, of course, be that Richard Kirker has sound reasons for saying what he has. The trouble is, he hasn't told the rest of us what they are.
Revd John P Richardson
4 August 2007
PS The venerability of this whole rumour can be confirmed by this link, which is over a fortnight old! The rumour mill is going full tilt here and here.
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