A Maori bishop has been demoted following comments he made last month to an interfaith meeting that church leaders believed offended Muslims and Jews. The Rt. Rev. John Gray was stripped of his post as vicar-general of the Te Pihopatanga (the Maori Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand). He remains Bishop of the Maori Anglican Diocese of Te Waipounamu (the South Island.)
Archbishop Brown Turei has announced he has appointed the Rt. Rev. Te Kitohi Pikaahu, Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau (the northern Maori tribal region) as his vicar-general and deputy. During a plenary session on interfaith relations held at the Maori church’s South Island ministry school last month, the bishop told a Jewish speaker the Hololcaust “should have taught you a lesson.” A statement from the national church office added the bishop had also offended Muslim guests when he “appeared to hold the two Muslim guests personally responsible for the slaughter inflicted by ISIS and Al Qaeda – he asked what they were doing about it – and questioned why their faith did not accept the Trinity.”
The church’s three archbishops published an apology for the bishop’s comments writing “Those comments are in regard to the beliefs and the history of other faiths and ethnicities. We as leaders do not share or support the views that Bishop John has expressed, and his comments do not represent the Anglican Church’s view on these matters. The Anglican Church values the relationships and the dialogue that it has with other faiths, and appreciates the respect that is extended to it by other faiths.”
However Bishop Gray has disputed statements that he has been demoted. He told Radio New Zealand that he had written to Archbishop Turei in December stating he was thinking of stepping down as vicar general due to the excessive workload given him. He added that he had not been asked to resign and was still on the job.
Bishop Gray demanded an apology from the New Zealand archbishops, saying they had made false statements about him and had misconstrued his comments.