Restoring order to the Church when relationships break down

Feb 13, 2018 by

by Canon Phil Ashey, AAC:

The GAFCON movement has hit a bump in the road. This week, it was made pulic that Archbishop Daniel Deng-Bul, the outgoing Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS), consecrated a woman bishop in December of 2016. This is a material breach of the GAFCON Primates’ 2014 moratorium on consecrating women as bishops. The GAFCON Primates agreed to the moratorium due to differences on theology and ecclesiology over the issue.

According to a senior member of GAFCON, who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the primates, the Gafcon Primates learned of the 31 December 2016 consecration from Archbishop Deng-Bul at their April, 2017 meeting. Archbishop Deng-Bul said he consecrated Bishop Elizabeth Awut because many of the male priests in the Diocese of Rumbek, which had been on the front lines of the South Sudan civil war and border conflict with the Khartoum government in Sudan, were dead or in exile. She was the best available candidate in the circumstances, Archbishop Deng-Bul told the other GAFCON Primates.

However, in an interview with Good News Radio, a Sudanese Catholic station, Archbishop Deng-Bul stated he had long hoped to be able to appoint a woman as bishop and was pleased with the innovation. Considering this interview, one cannot help wondering whether Archbishop Deng-Bul was fully transparent with his fellow GAFCON Primates when he explained his reasons for breaking the moratorium. What other pertinent facts went missing? Was there an episcopal election in the Diocese of Rumbek? Were the internal Archbishops and other diocesan bishops of ECSS aware of the situation? Was their permission sought and given before the consecration? If not, what provision is there in the constitution and canons of the ECSS for an Archbishop to appoint and consecrate a bishop without such election, notice and permission to consecrate?

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