Canterbury responds to AI report on Nigerian disquiet with new ACC secretary general

Though he had no hand in his selection, Josiah Idowu-Fearon is the right man for the job, says Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended the appointment of the Bishop of Kaduna, noting that while he did not oversee the process that selected Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, he nevertheless endorses the selection.


On 26 June 2015 the archbishop’s press office released a statement saying its “attention has been drawn to a statement forwarded to him from the Office of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh,” concerning the Church of Nigeria’s disassociation from the appointment of the Nigerian bishop.


The press release noted Nigerian statement had been made public by the Church of Nigeria on 30 April 2015. It did not state why it waited 9 weeks to respond. On 16 June 2015 Anglican Ink reported on Nigeria’s disquiet with Dr. Idowu-Fearon, noting that Lambeth Palace had no comment to make on the news.


In its press statement of 26 June, the archbishop noted the appointment had been made by the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council with the approval of Archbishop Welby.


It noted the “role of the Archbishop of Canterbury is by regulation limited to approving the name put forward by the [search committee] panel. In support of this he met with each of the shortlisted candidates.”


The press statement quoted Archbishop Welby as saying he was delighted with the selection of Dr. Idowu-Fearon. “This highly competitive process has produced a Secretary General who is an eminent scholar with an international track record of reconciling people, especially of different faiths. It is very good news that he comes from the largest and one of the most vigorous Provinces of the Communion.”


The Church of Nigeria’s objections arose over the archbishop’s pairing Dr. Idowu-Fearon with “the largest and one of the most vigorous Provinces of the Communion.”

It also defended Dr. Idowu-Fearon’s break with the Church of Nigeria’s position on homosexuality noting: “Archbishop Fearon’s view on the criminalisation of people of same gender attraction is fully in line with Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”


A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria was not available to comment on the announcement. However a senior church leader, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized by the church to speak on its behalf, said the announcement would do little to repair the strained relations with the African churches, and in his view was somewhat “petty”.


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