The Church of Nigeria has denounced as ”˜racist and demeaning’ suggestions that Archbishop Peter Akinola’s Aug 20 pastoral letter was ghost-written by his American bishop, the Rt Rev Martyn Minns.
The charges of American manipulation of African Archbishops were ”˜another attempt to divert attention’ away from the root causes of the crisis of faith and order in the Anglican Communion, it said.
On Aug 24 the Church Times reported that ”˜computer tracking software suggests’ the pastoral was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by Bishop Minns. The article stated there were “about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text.
There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream.”
The Rev Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, charged that the Church Times report confirmed his suspicions that American conservatives, not African bishops were
driving the Global South’s calls for discipline of the US church.
The Church Times report “demonstrates that the most extreme demands being made of the Anglican Communion by the secessionists originate not with Archbishop Akinola in Nigeria but from Bishop Minns and other extreme conservatives associated with CANA.
“The conservatives who have been driving the Global South agenda have tried to present themselves as orthodox in contrast to what they claim is TEC’s heterodoxy. In their campaign to defeat those of us who support the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion, they are prepared to use methods which we believe to be abusive, dishonest and fail to embody Christian values,” Mr Coward said.
The Church of Nigeria’s director of communications, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola, responded that it was “very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is
being dictated to.” Archdeacon Popoola stated work on the pastoral letter began in Abuja on Aug 6, as staffers gathered research for the letter. A first draft was read by Archbishop Akinola on Aug 9, but no corrections were made at that time.
Archbishop Akinola then travelled to the United States, and working in the offices of Bishop Minns, completed the letter. The charge that Bishop Minns wrote the letter was
nonsensical, Archdeacon Popoola said.
”˜I fail to see any issue if amendments are then made on Bishop Minns’ computer’ by Archbishop Akinola. “Apart from the fact that they were together during the period of the
amendment, the Archbishop, like many effective leaders who spend little time glued to a desk, often phones me and other staff to write certain things. Such remain his idea and anyone who knows Archbishop Peter Akinola knows you cannot make him say what he does not mean,” he said.
Bishop Minns told The Church of England Newspaper he served in a secretarial capacity as Archbishop Akinola’s amanuensis, and did not write the pastoral as claimed by the Church Times.
–This article appears in the August 31st, 2007, edition of the Church of England Newspapaer, page 7
On Aug 20 CEN received a copy of Archbishop Akinola’s pastoral from the Church of Nigeria written using Microsoft Word. A revised copy of the pastoral was sent out later that day. In its report on the pastoral the CEN noted that Archbishop Akinola was visiting his parishes in Northern Virginia at the time of the document’s release.
Using the Microsoft Word feature ”˜Track Changes’, changes to the original draft document as claimed by the Church Times can be observed, including the name of the registered user of the software used to edit the document.
While Bishop Minns is named as the registered owner of the software, there is no evidence that he was the author of the document ”” merely that it was typed on a machine whose copy of Microsoft Word was registered in his name.