In­cum­bent bishop flays han­dling of the con­tro­versy


THAT the courts had to step in and solve a mat­ter to bring peace be­tween for­mer Angli­can Dio­cese of Pre­to­ria head Bishop Jo Seoka and mem­bers of the clergy is a sad in­dict­ment on the church, says in­cum­bent Bishop Alan Kan­nemeyer .

The courts suc­ceeded in con­vinc­ing Seoka and mem­bers of his cathe­dral to apol­o­gise to each other af­ter years of con­flict – but that was the duty of the church, said Kan­nemeyer said yes­ter­day.

Open­ing the re­gion’s 85th ses­sion of Synod, he said: “We as the church should have done this. All this goes a long way to do away with the dis­trac­tions which have com­pro­mised our fo­cus on mis­sion and min­istry over the last six years.”

The three-day Synod is the high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body of the Angli­can church.

Ad­dress­ing bish­ops, ec­u­meni­cal part­ners, mem­bers of Cathe­dral Church of St Al­ban the Mar­tyr dioce­san or­der, aca­demics and oth­ers, Kan­nemeyer spoke of the re­cent court case in­volv­ing Seoka and five mem­bers of his church, who had spent a week-and-a half in court bat­tling out a R600 000 case.

The for­mer bishop had in­sti­tuted the claim against the group for defama­tion af­ter they ac­cused him of mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing church funds four years ago in a dis­agree­ment which brought up un­pleas­ant is­sues of an un­ten­able re­la­tion­ship be­tween clergy and church mem­bers.

Ef­forts by the South­ern African re­gion of the church to dif­fuse the un­hap­pi­ness over the years had failed and the cathe­dral had suf­fered.

Kan­nemeyer, the for­mer dean of St Al­ban’s Cathe­dral, took over the reigns of run­ning the dio­cese last year, af­ter Seoka re­tired.

He paid trib­ute to Seoka and oth­ers who had preceded him, say­ing: “I am fully aware that I stand on his, and the shoul­ders of his pre­de­ces­sors.”

His charge, as the open­ing ad­dress is called, set the tone for dis­cus­sions to be held by the Pre­to­ria dio­cese, which look into is­sues of pol­i­tics and eco­nomics, and the so­cial stand­ing of the Church and coun­try.

In his au­di­ence sat the­olo­gian Bar­ney Pityana, the bish­ops of other Pre­to­ria churches and vis­it­ing bish­ops of neigh­bour­ing re­gions. Kan­nemeyer spoke to pri­ests, lay­men and those who as­sisted them about stick­ing to the ideals of the church.

He said: “The life of the Angli­can church is so struc­tured that if you have a priest at ease with his or her vo­ca­tion in Christ, and whose for­ma­tion and train­ing was done prop­erly, then the rest would fol­low.”

Kan­nemeyer con­demned the fact that the work of church had seen the need for the for­ma­tion of the Cul­tural Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Rights Com­mis­sion, which was to reg­u­late churches and the ap­point­ment of clergy.

This, he said, was due to the abuses of “some pseudo, self-styled prophets and pas­tors who own churches, and have a fol­low­ing”.

It was sad be­cause re­li­gion was be­ing abused by its own lead­ers, lead­ers who had strayed from the ba­sic teach­ings, Kan­nemeyer added.

He warned against the abuse of gath­ered con­gre­gants by clergy who used their pul­pits to raise funds and to dis­cuss parish is­sues which could be dis­cussed else­where.

He men­tioned, among is­sues to be de­lib­er­ated, ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and bury­ing the dead. He said ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was an is­sue that would be dis­cussed “un­til we were all at peace with this un­com­fort­able sub­ject”.


Angli­can Dio­cese of Pre­to­ria head Bishop Alan Kan­nemeyer ad­dresses the 85th ses­sion of the synod at the Cathe­dral Church of St Al­ban the Mar­tyr.

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