Statement from the Rt Revd James Tengatenga, Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, regarding the appointment of the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon as new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion:
The Panel set up for the appointment of the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion acted with due diligence and was unanimous in appointing the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon.
The Communion is in need of leadership at the ACO from the majority world, a situation that is long overdue. Bishop Josiah has demonstrated in his life and in his person the integrity required of the position and the fact that he is African also demonstrates the recognition of the place of Africa in the Communion.
The Communion is called to move on and we consider that Bishop Josiah is a gift to all for facilitating this movement into the fullness of the Communion’s witness in a divided, broken world. There is more than one issue to address and while some may question his suitability, many in the Communion from different convictions on the issues and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean can vouch for his integrity and commitment to reconciliation.
As I said at the announcement of his appointment, it is Bishop Josiah’s experience in this context and commitment to the life of the Anglican Communion that commends this appointment at this challenging time in our life together.
In responding to the appointment of Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon as Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, some have drawn attention to an article in a Nigerian newspaper concerning an address he gave in Benin on Sunday 23 March 2014.
The article misrepresents and distorts his comments in the sermon in which he challenged the National Assembly on the time and energy spent in criminalizing homosexuality and not the corruption that damages Nigerian society. The views attributed in the article to Bishop Josiah do not reflect what is widely known to be his position, both within Nigeria and amongst those who know him.
In a statement today he said:
“I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes this community and I will never support it. The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin’, whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.”
It is well known that Bishop Josiah holds a conservative view on sexual relations outside of traditional marriage and holds to the commitments expressed in Lambeth 1:10. Through his involvement in the Windsor Report and the wider life of the Communion he has sought to be a bridge builder and interpreter between different cultures and views.
This is the context in which an interview in Dallas in 2007 should be read. As someone who seeks to assist understanding he has in his statement affirmed his commitment to this task:
“For the majority of African Christians the Bible judges culture, including African culture. As African Christians we must accept other cultures and the way they also understand the Bible’s relationship with culture. I accept and promote a culture of respect for such differences.”
May the “Way of the Cross” we walked yesterday remind us what the Church is about. May we listen to where the Spirit of our crucified saviour is leading us. Now is a moment of decision.
The Rt Revd James Tengatenga
Chair, Anglican Consultative Council