Dr. Cantrell Again

Dr. Phillip Cantrell commented on my post on RPF massacres below, and I thought it was worth elevating his comment to a post of its own given the seriousness of these issues for ACNA and GAFCON, so here is what he said:

Hello again Joel, and any readers. This is in response to this and your two previous posts from/abt Ryentjens. As a historian of Rwanda and the region, I would say Ryentjens is a major voice in Rwandan studies. For the record, he is more of a political scientist than a historian. He is also, or at least last time I checked, a jurist in Belgium; that is, our equivalent of a Belgian senator. As such, he used to have high-level, credible access to information in Rwanda. He still does, but he has been banned from Rwanda now b/c of his criticisms of Kagame and the RPF (obvious enough perhaps from your posts). He knows he would probably be detained and deported if he tried to enter the country now, which is true of other prominent historians, critics and observers of the country. I have read many of his writings and used them in my own publications. He is regarded by the community of Rwanda scholars as spot-on, accurate and fair; fair that is in his approach to the Hutu/Tutsi question and the issue of culpability in regards to the genocide and RPF attrocities since.

Tying into his comments abt Kagame and the allegations about RPF atrocities and killings since the genocide, these are really no longer in question, however much it may disturb some of the readers of this blog who, like many, including myself once, desperately wanted to believe in the “new Rwanda.” Kagame and the RPF, whatever their intentions may have been when they invaded from Uganda in 1991, did in fact play a role in bringing on the genocide, even as they fought to end it when no one else in the international community, including the U.S./U.N., did not. And they have run an increasingly despotic regime since.

It’s tragically ironic that I write these comments on the very day that the activist politician Victorie Ingabire was sentenced to 8 years in prison in Rwanda for alleged crimes of “speech” after a decidedly unfair trial by any Western standards, and even that assumes that its fair and just to imprison someone for non-violent political opposition. To the readers of this post: what would we say if George W. Bush had imprisoned Al Gore for 8 years for “vocal opposition” or if President Obama had imprisoned Newt Gingrich? Get the picture?

The only remaining, valid question it seems for the readers of this post, and the former AMiA, is to what extent is the Anglican Church in Rwanda complicit in all this, either thru its support or willing silence in Kagame and the RPF’s actions? Does it not behoove us and the Christian community to find out? Is it a just use of our “aid dollars” to inadvertently support such a state in Rwanda? At a time when the evidence is mounting of Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels? The chickens are coming home to roost for Rwanda and the RPF. The “you owe us your silence b/c of your genocidal guilt” mantra is wearing out. The truth will come out. But even worse, the retribution will flow one day, and retribution in Africa usually, sadly, flows red.

Its not an easy position to be in and I do not envy the decision-makers in the former AMiA. Its not natural for us. As Ryentjens said once its hard for Americans to comprehend African conflicts b/c everything in American history is cast as the “good guys versus the bad guys” so find the bad guys and call the rangers. But, Ryentjans said, in African conflicts its always the “bad guys versus the bad guys” and that makes decision-making difficult. Lastly, I will say this, Ryentjens is a Belgian politician and the Belgians carry alot of guilt. I note that he suggested, from your posts, the problems began in 1959/60. Not really. The problems began even earlier when the country became racialized into Hutus and Tutsis. And the Belgians bear much responsibility for that, but not all of it. Some of it lies at the foot of the Rwandans. But they are not as willing as the Belgians, Ryentjens not withstanding, to admit it. I’m Phil Cantrell (cantrellpa@longwood.edu) and, unlike the RPF, I welcome comments, criticisms and dialogue.

Dr. Phillip Cantrell on Anglicans and Rwanda

In my previous post on “Playing an Away Game”, I referred to a document written by Dr. Phillip Cantrell called “The Anglican Church of Rwanda : domestic agendas and international linkages.” Dr. Cantrell was kind enough to comment on that post, and his insights are important. He has expanded on that comment a bit and given me permission to post it here. He welcomes dialog on the subject, so please give this a read. His concluding sentence should give PEAR USA, ACNA and GAFCON pause: “I have never been more fearful for Rwanda and the region.” Let’s hope that Anglicans can fulfill the role of Jeremiah in relationship to the government of Rwanda. Dr. Cantrell’s comments follow:

I’m Phil Cantrell, author of the above mentioned article “The Anglican Church of Rwanda: domestic agendas and international linkages.” I came across this blog and mention of myself from following Nkunda Rwanda on Twitter. I decided to write in order to clarify my own position, explain some issues raised here and invite further discussion. I’m a professor of African history at Longwood University in Virginia and I specialize in East Central Africa. I’m also a believer in Christ and was a member of an AMIA church for five years, and would be still if there was such an option where I now live.

In 2004 I undertook a mission trip with AMIA to Rwanda and knowing it was a Franco-phone country I brushed up on my French, only to find that the Anglican pastors and bishops I met with spoke better English than I. Finding this intriguing, I undertook my own research as a professional historian of Africa; research that resulted in the article. Let me state that like Joel, I have found the rank-and-file Anglican pastors and parishioners in Rwanda to be utterly sincere in their faith and desire for a better Rwanda. I have never questioned their faith in my writing and presentations on Rwanda. But I stand by my conclusions regarding the church’s relationship to the ruling RPF of Kagame. In a larger context, this should not be surprising in that mission-minded Americans fail to realize that the concept of separation of church and state as its understood in the West does not exist in Africa. I do not say that disparagingly of Africa; it’s a cultural difference. But it does mean that Rwanda’s Anglican hierarchy supports the RPF’s public face in Rwanda, perhaps unknowingly themselves but they do nevertheless. And their hierarchy certainly does knowingly.

As far as RPF members “infiltrating” the church, I think that is a complicated and arguable proposition. The RPF and the present Anglican hierarchy were born of the same Tutsi refugee diaspora in the camps of Uganda prior to the genocide and the RPF takeover of the country. They were a tight-knit diaspora and so some crossover is to be expected. I do contend however that the Anglican Church has failed to distance itself from the regime, with may contribute to a disastrous future for the country. I harbor no animus towards AMIA and its former relationship to the Anglican Church. As I said, I speak as a grieving member for the broken relationship and Rwanda’s plight.

In 2007, I made another research trip to Rwanda as an advisor to an ad hoc Rwanda Missions Board with AMIA. On that trip, I challenged my own conclusions before the article went to press. My research only confirmed my findings however and I published the article. I will also say Kolini and Rucyahana and other pastors and bishops I interviewed in 2007 were fully aware that I was a historian researching Rwanda and did not withhold talking to me. I suspect that at the time they were unaware of my knowledge of what was happening in the country. Because, after my return, the Mission Board was dissolved and I was disinvited from coming to Rwanda and will not return until the situation is changed. The full reasons for that are still somewhat unknown but it may have become apparent after my departure that I was asking the “wrong” questions. Some of my more outspoken and accomplished colleagues in the academic profession have been threatened if they return.

My concern always, as I was uniquely positioned as a professional historian and an AMIA parishioner, was that if American churches blindly provided aid to Rwanda vis-à-vis the Anglican Church of Rwanda, they would be de facto supporting an increasingly despotic regime which failed to enact the Arusha Accords of 1994, which promised a multi-ethnic and inclusive democracy, which the RPF itself signed in Arusha. Incidentally, the pre-genocide Anglican hierarchy in Rwanda did in fact support the genocidal actions of the previous Habyarimana regime. They were removed after the genocide and replaced with new leadership (i.e. Kolini, Rucyahana, etc) when the RPF took over, hence the close and troubling relationship presently. My fear, as someone who loves Rwanda and the region, is that the church is making the same mistakes the pre-genocide leadership did. And American missionaries must be wary of tacitly endorsing it too.

All that being said, I do not believe the rank-and-file of the church is behaving in an intentionally sinister way. The theological origins of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, born as it was from the English Church Missionary Society of the 1920s, gives it a tendency to avoid political engagement and critique, even as they collude with the false narrative of Rwanda’s history. As for the recent information concerning Kolini and Rucyahana and Rwanda’s actions in Congo, I think we must warily wait and see. I have met both men on several occasions and found them to be entirely sincere in their faith and intentions. I will need more evidence to convince me otherwise, but a connection to M23 is possible. Kolini after all is Congolese Rwanda. Other information was unwittingly provided to me in 2007, which raised my concerns about Rwanda’s intentions in Congo. For example, an Anglican pastor, whose name I will never reveal so as not to endanger him, tried to inform me that Eastern Congo had once been part of Rwanda. This is false but I felt it must have been coming from somewhere higher than him and its implications troubled me. I’m not sure of this clarifies or confuses but I felt like adding it to the debate here. I am happy to continue the dialogue. The things I have written about Rwanda and the AMiA relationship have caused angst and soul-searching for me but I have counseled with pastoral friends and I believe God has called me professionally to seek and speak truth, especially to power. I have never been more fearful for Rwanda and the region.

Playing an Away Game

Ties to the African Anglican churches have by and large been positive for American Anglicans. Their orthodoxy, fervency for Jesus, and love of Scripture have been a glass of water in a thirsty land of apostasy.

With that in mind, it seems to me that we are aligning ourselves with political situations we have little to no idea about. We are playing an away game and we don’t know many of the players on our team or the opposing team. George Conger’s recent article on the possible involvement of Emmanuel Kolini with M23 in the Congo is one example. The UN report that Conger mentions says:

Another similar M23 meeting with Rwandan authorities took place on 26 May 2012 in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, at Hotel Ishema. According to intelligence sources and to politicians with close ties to Kigali, the RDF organized the meeting for CNDP politicians, which was chaired by Bishops John Rucyahana and Coline (sic – should read Kolini), both senior RPF party leaders. The aim of the meeting was to convey the message that the Rwandan Government supports M23 politically and militarily. All Rwandophone politicians and officers were instructed to join M23, or otherwise leave the Kivus.

I would by lying if I said I knew anything about “M23” before reading this. However, a Google search turns up some interesting things about the group, including pictures like this:

 

Then there is an article by Stephen W. Smith called Rwanda in Six Scenes. It was published in a leftist magazine, but that doesn’t necessarily detract from its essential veracity. It should be read by all with an interest in the subject, and it says in part:

Rwanda, as a recent document has it,

is a one-party authoritarian state, controlled by President Kagame through a small clique of Tutsi military officers and civilian cadres of the RPF from behind the scenes. The majority Hutu community remains excluded from a meaningful share of political power. State institutions are as effective as they are repressive. The government relies on severe repression to maintain its hold on power … Rwanda is less free today than it was prior to the genocide. There is less room for political participation than there was in 1994. Civil society is less free and effective. The media is less free. The Rwanda government is more repressive than the one that it overthrew.

This is not the preamble to a new Hutu manifesto but an excerpt from the ‘Rwanda Briefing’ published last year by four senior figures in the Kagame regime who’ve now fled abroad: the former secretary general of the RPF Theogene Rudasingwa; his brother Gerald Gahima, one-time prosecutor general and vice-president of the Rwandan Supreme Court; the erstwhile chief of external security services Colonel Patrick Karegeya; and General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, the ex-chief of staff of the Rwandan army. Nyamwasa survived an attempt on his life last June, when a commando opened fire on him in Johannesburg, where he now lives in exile. The South African authorities laid the blame with the government in Kigali.

Conger’s article goes on to say:

Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory; Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23; Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23; Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23; Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23; Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo; Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.”

The Group of Experts stated two Anglican bishops had convened a meeting organized by the Rwandan Defence Forces for leaders of the CNDP – the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple, CNDP  is a political armed militia established by Laurent Nkunda in the Kivu region in 2006 that under the terms of the recent peace accord is to be integrated into the Congolese army.  The Group of Experts further identified the two bishops as “senior members” of Rwanda’s ruling government party.

Conger also contacted Archbishop Rwaje, who said:

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje said: “We were not aware of the UN report or any involvement of our retired Bishops as contained in the report. PEAR is in the Proclamation of the Gospel and not in politics between two countries or simply put in politics. We are not able to comment on the report or the names therein.”

Finally, there is a document written by Phillip Cantrell called “The Anglican Church of Rwanda : domestic agendas and international linkages.” It was written in 2007, and it gives a good accounting of the AMiA / PEAR (called PEER in this document) relationship to that point. I can’t do justice to the entire thing, you should read it, but it says in conclusion:

As to Rwanda’s church leaders, specifically PEER, their close association with and support of the RPF, dating back to their own origins in Uganda, have made them a politicised church along the same lines as the Catholic and Protestant Churches under both Kayibanda and Habyarimana. They support the post-genocide narrative offered by the RPF, and have been enlisted in the campaign to re-write Rwanda’s history. While their efforts to promote reconciliation have brought many resources and much attention to the country, and while they may be utterly genuine in their own efforts, they have become complicit in presenting the RPF’s version of Rwanda’s history and politics. As a result, to paraphrase Pottier (2002), AMIA has joined the ranks of numerous groups in the ‘aid industry’ that prefer to accept the authorities’ easy reading of a highly complex situation, and have actively reproduced and spread, wittingly or unwittingly, a vision of Rwanda that bears the RPF’s seal of approval. Forgotten is Lemarchand’s (1998) warning that ‘there can be no reconciliation without justice and no justice without truth’.

Many of these sources point to former Archbishop Kolini’s connections, which I believe came to fruition with the AMiA – Congo tie up this year. If the UN report is correct, Kolini is multitasking while in the Congo and is keeping very busy. It would be interesting to map the territory of the “4 dioceses…committed to being partners through Concordat” mentioned by Kevin Donlon, and presumably in the Congo, with Kolini’s activity.

But the bottom line here is: we don’t know. I don’t know anything about M23, the CNDP or anything else in the Congo or Rwanda, and I bet you don’t either. Most of you anyway. But when we ally ourselves with these churches, we risk being drawn into a whole web of connections that we are unaware of. I don’t know what the answer is to the questions posed by these connections, but I think we should start thinking through them.

PEAR Elects Breedlove as Bishop

PEARUSA will begin with three Networks and at least one new bishop (bishops Glenn and Barnum will no longer be actively serving as bishops). Rev. Steve Breedlove will become a Bishop for PEARUSA. An excerpt from the report by Don Schulze:

The first PEARUSA Celebration Assembly meeting in Raleigh, NC elected their first bishop and announced the formation of three network relationship groups that include the West/MidWest, the Southeast, and the North/Northeast. Provisional Network Leaders are Rev. Ken Ross for the West/Mid-West, Rev. David Bryan for the Southeast, and Rev. Steve Breedlove for the North/Northeast.

The Rev. Steve Breedlove was elected by unanimous acclamation to be their first bishop. He has been senior rector of All Saints, Chapel Hill, SC and will leave that position in five weeks. He will serve as the Presider Pro Tem of PEARUSA and as network leader of the North/Northeast regional network of PEARUSA till his inauguration in October.

The working group of the Northeast Network met to identify its members and found that there were approximately thirty-six churches represented, from North Carolina to Connecticut.
Among the issues discussed was the need to find a way to communicate or meet in the months between June and September to consider, propose, and elect one or more network bishops. As various considerations were voiced and a number of ideas were considered, it appeared that the idea of such a large and geographically diverse group working in a cohesive way after leaving Raleigh was going to be difficult and a Network bishop would be necessary.

Breedlove was considered the choice for Network Bishop in view of his past experience in team leadership and pastoral care and oversight. Following a brief discussion the decision to make him the first Bishop Candidate of the new PEARUSA was made by acclamation.

I hope we’ll be able to see video or read the text of the presentations from this Assembly.

PEARUSA Celebration Assembly

Reports are emerging from the PEARUSA Assembly in Raleigh. The Rev. Don Schulze writes:

In a brief ceremony Archbishop Rwaje, Bishop Laurent Mbanda, and Bishop Gasatura formally installed Rev. Steve Breedlove as the "Presider Pro-Tem" of the new Missionary District. A "Missionary Council Pro-Tem" will replace the "steering committee" that has served so well for the last five months. They were also "sworn in" by the Rwandan Bishops.
The Rev. Clark Lowenfield and Rev. Alan Hawkins who played critical roles in getting PEARUSA to this point will not be serving on the provisional missionary council. Lowenfield will take up duties as Vicar of the new Diocese of the Gulf West Coast for ACNA and will be an ACNA clergyman. The Rev. Alan Hawkins will remain as a PEARUSA clergy and rector of his church in Greensboro, NC but will take on additional responsibilities as Vicar of the Anglican 1000 church planting initiative.
It was formally announced that Bishop Terrell Glenn would remain a Bishop in Rwanda. He will not serve in an active role for some time as he takes a much-deserved sabbatical and seeks God’s direction for the future.
Bishop Thad Barnum will not serve on the Missionary Council Pro-Tem in an active role. He was appointed by Rwaje to serve as counselor, advisor, and pastor to Rev. Steve Breedlove as he leads that working group until October.
Another major PEARUSA gathering, an Inaugural Assembly, will be held in October at a place and date to be announced. At that time the Provisional Missionary Council will have done their work of finalizing structures, documents, offices, and regional responsibilities and relationships for the new organization. At that meeting the official episcopal structure of the new PEARUSA Missionary District will be announced. This will entail consecrating new bishops and formally establishing regional oversight.

Read the rest here.

Icons and Anglicanism

In light of the recent appearance of Metropolitan Jonah at the ACNA Assembly, it may be worth re-posting this paper, "Images in the Church of England." One of the primary ideas recovered during the Reformation was to reject idolatry, something that is often ignored today. The paper quotes John Donne, who wrote:

God, we see, was the first that made images, and he was the first that forbade them. He made them for imitation; He forbade in danger of adoration. For – qualis dementiae est id colere, quod melius est – what a drowsiness, what a laziness, what a cowardliness of the soul is it, to worship that which does but represent a better thing than itself. Worship belongs to the best. Know thou thy distance and thy period, how far to go and where to stop. Dishonor not God by an image in worshiping it, and yet benefit thyself in following it. There is no more danger out of a picture than out of a history, if thou intend no more in either than example.

Further, Archbishop Wake wrote:

Were the benefits of images never so great, yet you know this is neither that which we dispute with you, nor for which they are set up in your churches. Your Trent Synod expressly defines that due veneration is to be paid to them. Your catechism says that they are to be had not only for instruction but for worship. And this is the point in controversy betwixt us. We retain pictures, and sometimes even images too in our churches for ornament, and (if there be such uses to be made of them) for all the other benefits you have now been mentioning. Only we deny that any service is to be paid to them; or any solemn prayers to be made at their consecration, for any divine virtues, or indeed for any virtues at all, to proceed from them.

This is the historic position of the Anglican Communion: images are good, but they are not to be "venerated" or prayed to / through. In light of I John 5.21, the leadership of ACNA should reconsider rushing into dialog with the Orthodox. We can be co-belligerents on issues of morality in our nation, but we must not unite with them in areas where the Reformation reclaimed Scriptural truths.

PEAR USA on Women’s Ordination

The Proposed Charter of the new Missionary District says:

Section 3. Men and Women in Ministry

PEARUSA upholds the biblical teaching that both men and women are created in God’s image and called to service in his Kingdom. For this reason, PEARUSA is committed to promoting the ministry of women alongside men, both within and outside the church. At the same time, the Bible also teaches that God created men and women with distinct differences, and has given them different roles within his Kingdom. Within the Anglican Communion there is a diversity of opinion regarding the ordination of women. While the Anglican Province of Rwanda does ordain women as Presbyters, PEARUSA does not, nor does it consecrate women as Bishops, nor does it receive or license women to serve as Presbyters or Bishops.

Technically, AMiA held this same position, although it watered it down over time by creating various sub-jurisdictions and entities. This is a very encouraging step towards rolling back the errors inflicted on the Church in the Seventies.

Rwaje, Muvunyi and Kolini Speak Against Abortion

Articles here and here describe how the bishops and retired Archbishop spoke out against any legalization of abortion in Rwanda. Excerpts:

Article 165 of the draft Penal Code, which was approved last week by the Chamber of Deputies and promptly forwarded to the Senate for further scrutiny, criminalises abortion but outlines four exceptional cases under which it may be permitted by a court of law.

The article stipulates that there is no criminal liability for a woman who causes her own abortion and a medical doctor who helps a woman to abort provided that any of the following conditions are met. They are; in case of pregnancy as a result of incest, rape, forced marriage, and/or when the continuation of a pregnancy seriously jeopardises the health of the unborn baby or the pregnant woman.

But Rwaje insisted that, rather than accepting abortion under those conditions, measures should be taken to address the four highlighted causes “since they are the problem and not abortion”.

He argued that some people were also born as a result of terrible circumstances, like rape, forced marriages or incest, among others, but have gone on to become useful citizens to the nation.

Retired Anglican Archbishop, Most Reverend Emmanuel Kolini, said abortion was wrong, adding that pouring innocent blood brings terrible conditions on a nation.

He, however, couldn’t commit himself regarding clause four of Article 165, which permits abortion to save a life.

Asked his position in case a woman who has been advised by medical personnel to abort due to the fact that the health of mother/baby was at great risk if they continued with the pregnancy, Kolini said the decision should be between the two parents.

“The decision should be made by the two parents of the child and a medical doctor. If they are uncertain about the decision, they should ask for God’s help,” he said.

Asked the same question, Archbishop Rwaje couldn’t also commit himself on whether he would advise a woman in that situation to terminate the pregnancy or not, only insisting that abortion is wrong.

Bishop Mbonyitege, however, stuck to his guns, saying “abortion is killing and therefore wrong”.

Archbishop Rwaje warned that secularism was knocking at the door of the country, so Rwandans should be very careful not to let it in.

Anglican bishop, Louis Muvunyi, of Kigali Diocese, Rwanda is down the same lane the US took when it started legalising abortion “bit-by-bit.”