Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dispute over Episcopal Seat in Karachi

On Oct 1, 1997 the Rev Ijaz Inayat was elected Bishop of Karachi by the diocesan synod. Shortly before his consecration, a rival faction within the diocese convinced a court to block the consecration charging his election had been unlawful, and litigation ensued.

In 2002, the Rev Sadiq Daniel was elected Bishop of Karachi in an election boycotted by supporters of Bishop-elect Inayat. Bishop Alexander Malik of Lahore, Bishop Samuel Azraiah of Raiwind and the former Bishop of Multan, the Rt Rev John Smart and then Sadiq Daniel as Bishop of Karachi.

In response, Bishop Smart K Dass of Hyderabad, Bishop John Samuel of Faisalabad, Bishop John Mall of Multan and Bishop Pervaiz Samuel Sialkot consecrated Ijaz Inayat as Bishop of Karachi.

Each of the new Karachi bishops claimed their consecration had been led by the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan. In 1997 Bishop Azariah was elected moderator of the Church of Pakistan. However, at the 2000 meeting of synod, Bishop Azariah closed the proceedings before a vote could be taken for a new moderator. A rump meeting was then held after the formal close of business and Bishop Dass elected moderator.

The rival moderators led to rival consecrations for the bishops of Karachi, then Hyderabad. The 2004 synod meeting elected Bishop Malik moderator, but its actions were not universally accepted by the church as half of the bishops boycotted the proceedings. Interventions by Dr Carey in 2004 failed to resolve the split. Within the international councils of the Communion, Dr Rowan Williams has followed the lead of Dr Carey and the Church of Pakistan Mission Partners Forum --- a support group comprising the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland, and others mission partners, and have backed Bishop Malik and his faction.

Litigation over the see of Karachi, as well as the disposition of church assets continues.

Read more here.

Bishop Ijaz Inayat agreed to the intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury expecting the Archbishop to work on healing the situation in the Church of Pakistan. Then the Archbishop's recommendations came and the court announced its decision to hold fresh elections within one month “according to the procedure as laid down by the constitution”, to end the dispute. The court named Bishop S.K. Dass of Hyderabad as co-Moderator and assigned him the duty of holding the election.

Straight away, Bishops Malik and Samuel Azraiah consecrated Sadiq Daniel, claiming that he had won the election. Four bishops did not approve of this election. All four bishops in response to the situation consecrated Ijaz Inayat as Bishop of Karachi on 14th September 2002.

By then it became known that Bishop Malik had registered a parallel Church, without the approval of the Lahore Diocesan Council and the Synod, Church of Pakistan. He was trying to go back to former “Anglican System” and the new constitution was aimed at monopolizing all power within the Diocese of Lahore as it was the body which sets the Lahore Diocesan Trust Association which holds all property within Pakistan irrespective of Diocesan territories.

This body can pressure other Dioceses on property matters and can sell properties. Questions have been raised about whether certain parties have skimmed money from the sale of church properties. This is one of the questions being considered in reference to the sale of Afghan Mission Hospital in Peshawar to a developer.

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