Kenya's archbishop responds to forgery reports

 

Kenya's archbishop responds to forgery reports

Author: 

George Conger

The Archbishop of Kenya did not sign, nor did he approve, a letter released under his signature that was posted to the provincial website that purported to change the church’s stance on its boycott of ACC-16 in Lusaka.

In an 11 April 2016 interview, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala confirmed the forgery was a ruse to justify the attendance of the Kenyan delegation to the meeting and to “defy my authority.”

Archbishop Wabukala explained he had been in Marsabit brokering an end to clashes between pastoralists and farmers in northern Kenya when “I found the delegation from Kenya were ready to go,” with air tickets and travel reservations in hand. Aware of the archbishop's opposition to their attending the meeting, the leader of the delegation, the Rt. Rev. Joel Waweru, Bishop of Nairobi telephoned and asked for a meeting in the provincial office with the archbishop and the two other delegates, Lay Canon Peter Gachuhi, Diocesan Chancellor of All Saints Cathedral Diocese and the Ven Canon Philip Obwogi, Vicar General of the Diocese of Nakuru, to discuss the situation.

Archbishop Wabukala responded that he was not in Nairobi and could not attend the meeting, but would send one of his aides and participate via telephone. “So they came to my office and held a meeting. I was not there. I was in another place and the [telephone] network in that place was not good.”

However, the archbishop asked his staff to prepare a file for the meeting containing “the records of the resolutions of our synod, the primates meeting and the subsequent conversations we had” with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop’s aide was then despatched to the meeting to “give them my position.”

“But the bishop just chased him away. [Bishop Waweru] called me and said ‘I have found a stranger in the office’,” recounted the archbishop.

“And I wondered, [the aide] is no stranger and he is known to all of you. So [the aide] did not attend the meeting."

By expelling the archbishop’s representative from the meeting, Bishop Waweru was able to “bully the other two” and control the agenda, the aide suggested.

"So then of course it was already decided that they would go. They drafted that document and they wanted me to sign it and they read it to me” over the cell phone.

Parts of the document were acceptable, the archbishop noted: “the ACK does not approve of TEC. We support the Global South. We support the primates meeting.”

However, the archbishop said he was unable to hear all of the letter. “I was not comfortable. So I said I will come back and see what it is.”

He continued, “So when I came back to the office I found the letter had been released under my signature," adding: “This is not what I said. So I was real annoyed. I called the office of communications and said ‘please do not put that thing out because it was not what I wrote’.”

Archbishop Wabukula explained the letter had been signed with a “rubber stamp”, a digital signature used for internal church memorandums, and given to his staff with instructions to disseminate the letter.

The archbishop added that he hoped this was not an attempt “to deceive” on the part of Bishop Waweru, but was an unauthorized use of his signature to present a false position to the Kenyan church and the wider Anglican Communion. “I think it is a bit of a misunderstanding, a very clear misunderstanding. That statement does not bear my position.”

Archbishop Wabukala said he was also perturbed by the logical inconsistencies shown in the forged document. If the Kenyan delegation took that statement with them to Lusaka to justify their presence, it did not support their journey. “It is contradictory to the position of Kenya because the conclusion was against the synod of bishops, and the solid Biblical position we have taken as a church in support of the primates in January, in support of the General South position. So after you have said all that why say, ‘I am going’?”

Asked why he believed the forgery was passed off as his his own views, Archbishop Wabukala said it was to “justify and defy my authority. The bishop in particular, Bishop Waweru, said ‘No, I have to go.’ He took these two people, the two delegates with him as a way of protecting himself.”

The archbishop said he had not spoken with Bishop Waweru since he left for Lusaka and would meet with him upon his return from the meeting, and would tell him: “You have misrepresented my position.”

Asked by Anglican Ink whether there was any connection between Bishop Waweru’s defiance of his archbishop and the May election for a new primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Archbishop Wabukala smiled. “He is a candidate already. So I don’t know whether that is part of what he wants, but all the same if he takes the job he will find other bishops will rebel against him for what he has done. So I wish him well.”

On 11 April 2016, the general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon denounced press reports of misconduct by the Kenyan delegation. “The unsubstantiated public allegations of forgery against the members of the Kenyan delegation are scurrilous and untrue and are made in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behaviour,” he said.

Dr. Idowu-Fearon is not believed to have contacted Nairobi before issuing his statement. In response to our query his press officer said: "Archbishop Josiah stands by his statement and will not be making any further comment."

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