And In Other Anglican News, Things Are Not Well In the Diocese of Jerusalem

From here:

Charges of fraud and misconduct are being traded between the current and former Anglican Bishops in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Bishops trade charges

Already internally conflicted over its relationship with the diocese of Los Angeles, and the political implications of the June GAFCON conference, the civil war between current Bishop Suheil Dawani and former Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal (pictured) adds a further burden to the weakened Anglican presence in the Holy Land.

On Jan 20, Bishop Riah’s office released an “urgent” petition calling for Bishop Suheil to “step down” after he allegedly colluded in the beatings of two Nazareth Anglicans.

The petition said that following a confirmation service at Christ Church in Nazareth on Jan 12, Rafle Abu Al-Assal and his brother Ala’a, confronted Bishop Suheil and demanded to know why the bishop had not confirmed Rafle’s daughter.

The two men were seized and taken outside the church and beaten, the petition said. “While the two were harassed and beaten, Bishop Suheil, turning a blind eye to all that was happening in the church yard, carried on indifferently.”

The two Abu Al-Assal brothers were jailed and the “road was cleared for Bishop Suheil to proceed to a reception,” Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal’s office said.

Bishop Suheil declined to comment on the incident, when queried by The Church of England Newspaper, but on Jan 29 released a statement detailing litigation brought by the diocese against Bishop Riah for fraud.

Upon his accession to office in April 2007, Bishop Suheil said he asked Bishop Riah to relinquish his office at the diocesan school in Nazareth. Bishop Riah declined to go saying the school was his personal property and had been built with his private funds.

Shortly before his retirement, Bishop Riah created a charitable trust entitled the “Bishop Riah Education Campus” and allegedly transferred the assets of the school from the diocese to the trust—of which he was chairman.

“Members of the charity include Bishop Riah’s wife and nephew. Through this charity, Bishop Riah is collecting the tuition from the students and is not depositing the monies in the school’s official bank account, whilst, all the employees at the school are official Diocesan institution employees and receive their salaries from the Diocese,” Bishop Suheil said.

On Jan 22, the magistrate court of Nazareth issued an injunction against Bishop Riah and his family forbidding their use of the school’s facilities and funds until a court had determined its true ownership, he added.

Bishop Riah has steadfastly maintained his innocence and financial probity. Elected coadjutor in 2005 in a contested election, Bishop Suheil has had a difficult episcopate. Coupled with the ongoing Middle East crisis, internal divisions have beset the diocese. His plans for a companion relationship with the Diocese of Los Angeles announced at the December 2005 synod elicited protests from the clergy who objected to links with the American diocese due to its stance on homosexuality.

Bishop Suheil cut short the debate saying those innovations would not take place in Jerusalem under his watch, and has discouraged the gay issue from being revisited, though he has forged links with Los Angeles. Since 1996 the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem have contributed over £11 million towards the operations of the dioceses.

The split between the two bishops had a public airing in the summer of 2006 when Dr Rowan Williams announced the formation of the Anglican-Judaism dialogue commission. Bishop Riah had protested the planned talks with the leaders of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate as being untimely given the unfolding Second Lebanon War however, Bishop Suheil backed Lambeth and was brought into the planning by the Archbishop’s staff while Bishop Riah was sidelined.

In September 2006 a diocesan investigation committee released a report alleging fraud by members of Bishop Riah’s family in the management of the diocese’s finances—charges the Bishop has stoutly denied.

The diocese has since been divided into factions supporting Bishop Riah and Bishop Suheil, as well as those seeking a more activist approach towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The introduction of GAFCON into this mixture, sources in the Diocese of Jerusalem tell CEN, is another political variable that has little to do with the wider Anglican conflict and everything to do with the politics of Jerusalem and Palestine.

How the politics of the Middle East will impact GAFCON is unclear. Organizers are holding a meeting this week to finalize details and set the meeting’s agenda.

4 Responses to “And In Other Anglican News, Things Are Not Well In the Diocese of Jerusalem”

  1. 1 Alice C. Linsley January 30, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    The plot thickens! Leaked minutes turned out to be doctored, leaving out all comments by Bishop Suheil that might be seen as favorable to GAFCON. One of Archbishop Akinola’s aides who was present at the meetings told me by email that “the bishop just wasn’t himself” at the meetings. Wonder who got to him? Don’t suppose there could be any connection to retired TEC Bishop Swing who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time of the meetings. A priest friend of mine worshiped with him at St. Georges and reported that Swing left before receiving Communion. I bet he wouldn’t have any objection to taking communion with Hindus!

  2. 2 Alice C. Linsley January 31, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Brad, I sent you a message off line this afternoon. Please confirm that you received my email.

  3. 3 Alice C. Linsley February 1, 2008 at 2:16 am

    Today (Jan. 30, 2008) Archbishop Akinola stated, “The issue is that there are members of our Anglican family who are not paying attention to scripture, but are giving prominence to modern culture. They are bringing new principles to interpret scripture. The word of God has precedence over any culture. Those of us who will abide with the Word of God, come rain come fire, are those who are in GAFCON.

    Those who say it does not matter are the ones who are attending Lambeth. There might be a view, for whatever it is worth, that they want to be there to observe what is going on. But Uganda, Rwanda, Sydney, Nigeria: we are not going to Lambeth conference. What is the use of the Lambeth conference for a three weeks’ jamboree which will sweep these issues under the carpet. GAFCON will confer about the future of the church, which will set a road map for the future. We are a movement that will move away from the “maybe – maybe not”.

    The issue is that church leaders are endorsing what is wrong. They are not willing to make the gospel that the Lord can bring change available. We want to move forward with commitment to the word of God. The question is asked how many people we are. The question is rather how many people we are representing. Four primates who are in the leadership of GAFCON represent more than 30 million Anglicans.”

  1. 1 WebElf Blogroll News « The WebElf Report Trackback on February 1, 2008 at 12:22 am

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