Monday, September 5, 2011

Advice to Ignore "Anathema"

This statement was issued by the Provincial Executive Officer on 5 September 2011.

Clergy and parishioners of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa are advised to ignore the ‘Anathema’ that is being widely circulated by email in the name of the ‘Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church’ and / or the ‘Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate’.

This group broke away in 2009 from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church - an Eastern Rite Catholic Church directly subject to the Pope. They have since issued wide-ranging condemnations of church bodies and individuals who do not support their narrow views – which include opposition to ecumenism, the demand that Christian countries deport Muslims, and the accusation that the Pope’s dialogue with Jewish leaders invites ‘a spirit of freemasonry’ into the church. Those whom they portray as ‘heretical’ or ‘apostate’, or claim to ‘excommunicate’ or to ‘anathematise’, range from the current and previous Pope and over 2000 Roman Catholic Bishops to President Barack Obama and the Commissioners of the European Union; as well as dozens of Churches, including (during the month of July 2011 alone) some twenty or so Anglican, Lutheran and other Protestant Churches alongside our own!

Southern Africa’s Anglicans are also assured that the accusations made against ACSA are riddled with distortions and untruths. As Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and the Synod of Bishops have continued to make clear (most recently in the Archbishops letter ‘To the Laos – to the People of God’ of August/September 2011), ACSA remains committed to upholding the moratoria of the Anglican Communion on the ordination of persons living in a same gender unions to the episcopate; the blessing of same-sex unions; and cross-border incursions by bishops. Similarly, our Church has affirmed that partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage in the eyes of God. Accordingly, our clergy are not permitted to conduct or bless such unions; nor are they permitted to enter into such unions while they remain in licensed ministry. It is within this context that we are currently exploring appropriate Guidelines to respond to the changing pastoral realities that have followed the Government of South Africa’s introduction of Civil Unions between people of the same gender.

Provincial Executive Office, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, September 5, 2011