Bishop Duleep de ChickeraBishop Richard Elena (Nelson, New Zealand) emailed his diocesan clergy that he decided he was unable to receive communion at the Lambeth opening service because of the, to him, unacceptable sermon. Bishop Richard described the conclusion of the sermon to be a Buddhist chant.

Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo, was chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver the sermon at the opening Eucharist of the Lambeth Conference. Bishop Duleep actually concluded with a Sinhalese chant reminiscent of St Patrick’s Breastplate inculturated into his context in a way not dissimilar to Charles Wesley:

I take refuge in God the Father
I take refuge in God the Son
I take refuge in God the Holy Spirit
I take refuge in the One Triune God.

Bishop Richard’s email, including this false accusation, has been read out and quoted last Sunday in pulpits beyond his diocese. In Christchurch Diocese the tut-tutting over “syncretism” re-opened old wounds about the magnificent Christchurch cathedral Pentecost altar cloth that incorporated in Sanskrit a variant of the World Peace Prayer.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia includes many different languages, with at least four having significant place in our prayer book. Most people in our church are well used, when we cannot understand a language, to begin from a position of trust and respect and, if we are interested, to ask for a translation.

Bishop Richard lists other bishops who joined him in not receiving communion. There has been significant dyspepsia and uproar amongst the mistrustful about this event on the internet.

That receiving communion in Christ’s unifying gift of the Eucharist is, by some leaders in our church, being used as an indication of the acceptability of a sermon is also cause for grave concern.

photo: Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo

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