The law governing priests and the consequences of their choice – 26 Jan 08

It is apparent some people in the Diocese are not aware of, or ignore, the law relating to priests in the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Here is the position: 
The Preamble to the Laws of the Province states that dioceses should be associated in provinces. The Anglican Diocese within Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana constitute a provincial union under the title of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA). The CPCA is a Province of the Catholic Church in full communion with the Church of England and with the Anglican Communion throughout the world.
Thus, any priest or church which does not recognise the CPCA is not recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion anywhere whatsoever.
All Priests and Deacons who exercise spiritual functions under the authority and spiritual jurisdiction of any Bishop of the Province and, according to the Canons of the Province, are described as “Clergy of the Province”. The Bishop of the Province in the Diocese of Harare CPCA is Bishop Sebastian Bakare. Any priest who does not accept this is not a clergyman of the Province or of the Diocese.
All persons to be admitted to Holy Orders in the Harare Diocese are obliged to sign this Oath and Declaration of Canonical Obedience:
“I, AB, do swear that I will pay due and canonical obedience to the Bishop of Harare and his successors, so help me God.
I assent to the Book of Common Prayer and Fundamental Declaration of the Province and believe the faith they contain to be agreeable to the Word of God. In public worship and use of the Sacraments I promise to use only this book and others permitted by the Bishop or the Provincial Synod. I agree to be bound by the Canons, Acts and other regulations of the Province and the Diocese. I promise to seek to further the proclaiming of the Gospel and the care of God’s people in love and faith” (Canon 9).
Any priest who does not pay due canonical obedience to Bishop Bakare and accept the laws of the CPCA or the Diocese is breaking his sacred vows which is scandalous and unbecoming a priest.
A clergyman may exercise ecclesiastical functions only if he holds a written licence from the Diocesan Bishop.
The Bishop may revoke or limit the licence of any clergyman resident in the Diocese. The existing licence of a priest is deemed valid only if that priest, in writing, accepts Bishop Bakare as Bishop of the Diocese of Harare. Failing this, the licence is invalid.
The employment of a clergyman is conditional upon his holding and continuing to hold an appropriate licence from the Bishop of the Diocese CPCA.
A priest or Deacon (as well as a Bishop) may be accused of:
·        Publicly, and deliberately, maintaining doctrines or opinions which are contrary to the teaching of the Church;
·        Schism – acceptance of membership in a religious body not in communion with the CPCA;
·        Willfully refusing to obey a lawful command of the Bishop or Ecclesiastical Superior;
·        Conduct giving just cause for scandal or offence, or otherwise unbecoming a Clergyman.
(If found guilty of any of these offences a sentence of excommunication may be imposed.)
1.         A priest of the diocese of Harare is a member of the clergy of the CPCA.
2.         He has sworn to pay due canonical obedience to each successive Bishop of the Diocese.
3.         He accepts and agrees with the Fundamental Declarations of the CPCA and agrees to be bound by the Canons, Acts and regulations of the CPCA.
4.         His licence may be revoked by the Bishop and in such an event his employment as a clergyman is automatically terminated.
5.         If he commits any offence including that of disobedience towards the CPCA or the Bishop appointed by the CPCA, he runs the risk of being excommunicated.
Nolbert Kunonga, without the approval of the Diocesan Synod and contrary to the Canons of the CPCA, attempted to withdraw the Diocese of Harare from, and sever all ties with the CPCA from the 4th August 2007. This attempt was unlawful and failed. Having personally disassociated himself and broken away from the CPCA, Dr Kunonga is no longer a bishop and no longer represents or has any authority over the Diocese nor does he in any way represent the CPCA or  the Anglican Church. He and any followers of his are no longer in full communion with the Church of England and with the Anglican Communion throughout the world and are no longer held to be priests anywhere in the Anglican Communion.
Dr Kunonga and his followers have committed the offence of schism by becoming members of a separate body not in communion with the CPCA.
The CPCA still has the Diocese of Harare as a member. The CPCA has appointed Bishop Sebastian Bakare as interim Bishop/Vicar General of the Diocese and he assumed his duties on the 7th November 2007. Bishop Bakare is the successor to Nolbert Kunonga and it is he who controls and has authority over the Diocese.
It is to Bishop Bakare that priests now owe Canonical Obedience. It is to the CPCA that priests have sworn to be bound. It is Bishop Bakare who can give and revoke licences and excommunicate priests. He has given a very reasonable time limit for priests to submit written support for him and the CPCA should they so wish.
Priests had to decide where their loyalty lies. The choice was simple and did not require much time for reflection. Each priest merely had to decide whether he would keep his promise and remain in the Anglican Communion or break his vow, sever his ties with Anglicanism and the CPCA and follow Dr Kunonga out of the Church (defined in the Acts as the Church of the CPCA.) The time to make a decision has expired. He that is not with the Diocese of Harare CPCA is against it and not part of it or part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Those who have chosen Dr Kunonga’s path have thereby ceased to be a priest. Their licences are deemed to have been revoked. They have automatically ceased to be employed by, and are not recognized by, the Diocese. Their stipends have been stopped by the CPCA together with other perquisites. They can no longer appear at the altar to preside or officiate at communion, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, funerals or any other service. A list of their names will soon be circulated for the avoidance of doubt. Members of the laity should note who these persons are and act accordingly should they persist in behaving as if they are licensed priests of the Diocese.
Those priests who have chosen to remain loyal to the CPCA under Bishop Bakare have already notified him in writing. They are to continue as before and are recognized as being fully licenced. There is a duty to look after them at all times. All members of laity are called on to assist wherever possible.
Chancellor of Diocese of Harare
Deputy Chancellor of CPCA

26 January 2008


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