News / Africa

Tough Path Ahead for New Anglican Leader

The Bishop of Durham, and the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leaves after a news conference at Lambeth Palace, in London, November 9, 2012.The Bishop of Durham, and the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leaves after a news conference at Lambeth Palace, in London, November 9, 2012.
x
The Bishop of Durham, and the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leaves after a news conference at Lambeth Palace, in London, November 9, 2012.
The Bishop of Durham, and the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leaves after a news conference at Lambeth Palace, in London, November 9, 2012.
Selah Hennessy
The newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion, faces major challenges in uniting the faith’s increasingly divided church. For church members in Africa - where more than half of Anglicans live - opinions vary about how Justin Welby will weather the storm.

Welby will take up his new position as the Archbishop of Canterbury early next year. It will be a remarkable undertaking for a man who began his career in the oil industry before becoming a parish priest in the Church of England. He has only been a bishop for one year.

South African theologian Barney Pityana said many African Anglicans in his region do not know anything about Welby.

“There is a little bit of apprehension over the appointment of somebody with so little episcopal experience,” said Pityana.

Divided Anglican Communion

The trouble, he said, is that the Anglican Communion, with its 80 million members, is at a complex and crucial point in its history.

Issues that have dogged the church for the past decade continue to threaten Anglican unity, dividing liberals, many in North America, and conservatives, many based in Africa.

The split between liberal and conservative regions set in after the United States consecrated its first openly gay bishop. Since then, disputes over homosexual priests and same-sex marriages have become a major stumbling block.

Welby has said he agrees with the Church of England bishops’ position in opposition to gay marriage. On the other hand, he supports the ordination of women - another, though lesser, issue of controversy.

Evangelical uniter

The archbishop also comes from the church's evangelical wing, which analysts say should stand him well in Africa. Pityana said that building a bridge between the two sides, however, will not be easy.

"Clearly any archbishop has got to be a master diplomat, has got to be somebody who can really balance out a variety of interests and pushes and pulls in the Anglican community. In this time, I would imagine there is a schism in all but name," said Pityana.

Pityana said what is needed is an archbishop who can open dialogue, and he thinks Welby may have what it takes.

The incoming archbishop has worked as a crisis negotiator in Africa, working with separatists in the Niger Delta and negotiating with Islamists in northern Nigeria. His experience in Africa is important, Pityana said, especially in Nigeria, host to the world’s largest Anglican community.

“Bishop Justin has worked in Nigeria and one assumes that he has got fraternal relations with the leadership or the emerging leadership of the church in Nigeria. And so he would be able, at the very least, to be persuasive enough to open real genuine dialogue, which clearly under Archbishop Rowen Williams just did not happen,” said Pityana.

Forging a dialogue

But speaking on the BBC, Nigerian Anglican leader Nicholas Okah made it clear how he views the road ahead.

“The homosexual agenda that is being promoted here and there in the church, and by different governments here and there, if that is the agenda he is coming to promote, of course we will not be part of it,” said Okah.

Leeds University African-religious studies expert Kevin Ward also is an Anglican priest. He said he thinks Welby has the qualities needed to make better headway toward dialogue within the Communion.

"I think that Justin Welby is going to work hard. He has this strong background of reconciliation, of working with divided people, bringing people together. And I think he will use those skills very well, not least in working with African church leaders," said Ward.

Welby is to be enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury on March 21 in Canterbury Cathedral.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More