A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
For a message of repentance
to the Bishops of the Global South from ECUSA
By Michael Witmer
Brothers, we owe you an apology.
The anger we have felt at the incursion of the Bishop of Uganda into the territory of the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles can be but a slight taste of the outrage you must have felt when our forefathers colonized your continent. They disregarded your traditions, ran rough shod over your historic boundaries, and tore apart the very fabric of your communities. Our anger can only pale by comparison.
The resentment we felt reminds us of how humiliating it must have been when colonists from Europe and slave traders from America treated your cultures with such arrogant disdain. And how could you have not burned with resentment at the hypocrisy of our church predecessors? They sent missionaries who claimed to bring a message of good news, but instead of Christís gospel of liberation, they burdened you with a theology of oppression and domination. Who can blame you for sending it back to us?
But our fathersí crimes did not end with the withdrawal of their imperial forces. No, their legacy lives on. For once they had destroyed your traditional social structures, they left your peoples at the mercy of men whose concern for the common good was eclipsed by their love of money. And now, we distract you with theological squabbles as your peoples starve.
Our multinational corporations continue to extract vast wealth from your lands while millions of Africans cannot afford to buy gasoline. Our drug companies grow wealthier each year as millions more die of AIDS. Our banks amass vast profits while your people struggle to simply pay the interest on international debts, engineered by the World Bank. And instead of helping to build a dream of a sustainable future, our entertainment companies and advertisers work to transform your citizens into passive consumers like ourselves.
Dear brothers and sisters, the crimes of the global north against you and Mother Africa have been many. Our moral debt to you can never be repaid, and seems to be growing. But we fear that debt cannot be repaid by your answering our and our parentís disrespect and disregard in kind. We long to help bind up the wounds we and our parents inflicted and continue to inflict, but we cannot do so if you shun and exclude us. Let us work with you to build a new human community founded on respect for the dignity of each person, each community, each society. Let us work with you to bring forth the Kingdom of God.
Teach us the wisdom of ubuntu. Forgive us.
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