Anglican Cathedral Parish in Pretoria Closes after Death Threats

The Anglican cathedral parish of St Albans in Pretoria has closed its doors because of death threats, confrontations, disruptions and allegations of corruption against its bishop, according to a report on Saturday.

One priest who feared for his life had already resigned, the Saturday Star reported.

The church leadership under Bishop Johannes Seoka wrote to parishioners informing them of the closure and suspension of all forms of worship with immediate effect on Thursday.

“Unfortunately the action will affect all those whose intention it is to disrupt the cathedral worship and the innocent ones,” the church was quoted as saying.

On Friday, members of the cathedral vowed to fight the closure and urged parishioners to come and worship outside the premises.

According to the report members were also consulting with lawyers to seek an urgent court order to force Seoka to reopen the church gates before Sunday.

The bishop, who is also the president of the SA Council of Churches, was accused by church members of misappropriation of cathedral funds, dishonesty, breach of trust, corruption and fraud.

The accusations were contained in a letter signed by two priests, two church wardens and a parish councillor and sent to Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the newspaper reported.

They alleged that Seoka had used R500,000 of the Diocese of Pretoria to pay for a mortgage bond for him and his wife. They also claimed that Seoka had misappropriated R162,000 to be used to fund legal representation against a church dean.

Seoka said the allegations had nothing to do with the closure.


HT:  Fr Stewart Peart who spotted the above news in the Star.



The Power of the College of Bishops to Suspend a National Bishop

In via e-mail.

Regarding Fr Chadwick’s piece:

The College of Bishops has the power to suspend one of its members from membership of the College.

What then follows depends on the constitutional and canonical arrangements of the national TAC member Church.

In the case of the ACCA, the Constitution provides that the ACCA is a member of the TAC and that (at 11.4) the Bishop Ordinary must be a member of the Council of Bishops or else ceases to hold that office. Further, in the absence of an Assistant Bishop (and Bishops Entwistle and Robarts had specific territorial authority but not the title of assistant or coadjutor or anything that gave them secondary authority over all of Australia), the Vicar-General takes charge.

And Fr Buckton was sitting in the hot seat when the music stopped…

Further also, the ACCA National Constitution in pdf. which may be of relevance here.



Surprise Guest of the Kings of Leon

Sacred mysteries: Christopher Howse goes in search of a saint wrapped in an Arabian tapestry.

The Telegraph:

I’m just off to pay my respects to St Isidore of Seville. I won’t be taking the train to Seville, though, but to Leon, that slightly down-at-heel capital of an ancient Spanish kingdom.

Most visitors to Leon marvel at the great stained-glass windows of the cathedral, and they are right to do so, although the style of the cathedral is not in the least Spanish, but French through and through.

St Isidore, a learned founder of the civilisation that we are just about clinging on to, lived 100 years before our own St Bede, dying in 636. He is buried in the church in Leon dedicated to his name, but the way he got there was accidental in the extreme, or so it seemed.

King Ferdinand I of Leon (who died in the year before the Battle of Hastings) was doing pretty well, once he stopped waging war against the King of Navarre, in exerting pressure on the Arab half of the peninsula, which since the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba, 30 years earlier, had been divided into a patchwork of kingdoms, or taifas as modern historians like to call them. In 1063 he despatched two bishops to Seville to collect the relics of St Justa.

St Justa is now the name of the main railway station in Seville, but she meant more to Spanish Christians of the Middle Ages. With her sister Rufina she was identified with the so-called Mozarabic liturgy – the Latin Mass and services used by Christians under Arabic rule. The two martyrs of the third century, so their legend said, died for refusing to give money towards a feast in honour of the goddess Venus.

This story might appeal to Christians living under a form of Muslim rule that was often abrasive. Indeed a more recent martyr, St Pelagius (San Pelayo in Spanish) had been put to death as a prisoner of Abd al-Rahman in 925, for refusing his advances. To him, with St John the Baptist, the royal church in Leon was dedicated.

So King Ferdinand wanted the relics of St Justa to be honoured in his own church, not left to the vicissitudes of Muslim rule. The fact that, about this time, al-Mu’tadid Ibn Abbad, the king of Seville, had thought it wise to make tribute to Ferdinand, may have eased negotiations. The anonymous contemporary chronicler of these events, a monk from Santo Domingo de Silos, gave the Arab ruler’s name as Benahabet, a Latinisation of Ibn Abbad. When Ferdinand’s envoys, Bishop Alvito of Leon and Bishop Ordoño of Astorga, arrived in Seville, Benahabet told them he was awfully sorry but he couldn’t find the remains of St Justa anywhere.

Bishop Alvito, not to be discouraged, set about praying, and while at prayer fell asleep, and in a dream St Isidore himself appeared, banging on the floor with his staff where, he said, his body was buried. Sure enough, at the spot indicated they found a coffin, from the remains of a man in which came a most sweet smell. No sooner was the coffin opened, says the chronicler, than Bishop Alvito was struck down by sickness and died within a week.

Undeterred, his brother bishop brought back to Leon the body of St Isidore, wrapped in a piece of tapestry given by al-Mu’tadid. The church of St John and St Pelagius was renamed St Isidore’s and his body is still revered there. Ferdinand and his successors were buried in the arched narthex, which 100 years later was decorated with the most accomplished murals – shepherds, sheepdogs, goats and angels, the work of the months and the killing of swine.

The relics of St Isidore were later given an ornate sarcophagus, and the 11th-century casket in which they had been laid in 1063 was put on display in the treasury. It is lined with a beautiful silk textile, with stylised birds and animals embroidered within squares (as pictured here). This, say some archaeologists, could be the tapestry that al-Mu’tadid gave. And why not?