The rift in the Anglican Church over homosexuality has deepened after Thursday’s comments by two leading African archbishops who scorned the recent House of Bishops statement on gays and lesbians within the Church of England.
Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola and the Archbishop of Uganda Henry Luke Orombi rebuked once again the position expressed by the Church in its July 25 announcement that the Church of England would accept gay priests registered as a same-sex partnership under new civil law on the condition they remain celibate.
Archbishop Akinola, who called for the Church of England to be suspended from the Anglican Communion for backing gay civil partnerships, warned at a Thursday news conference: “If England adopts a new faith, alien to what has been handed to us together, they will walk apart.”
In a response to the House of Bishops statement issued last month, the reverend said: “While I was pleased to note the reaffirmation of the Church’s historic teaching on both marriage and sexual intercourse, I was sorely distressed that these words are not matched by any corresponding actions.”
He added that the same Civil Partnerships Act, due to come into force in November, proposes same-sex marriage ‘in everything but name’ and that the proposal to extract a promise from gay clergy who register for civil unions to abstain from sexual relations is ‘totally unworkable’ and “invites deception and ridicule”.
Archbishop Orombi affirmed Akinola’s position, saying he “speaks for all of us” in the leaderships ranks of the self-governing Anglican branches in Africa.
Orombi said of the Church of England, “We see a different direction taking place” and that “we can only pray and hope they do not walk away”.
Akinola is chair of the Anglican Council of Africa, home to half of the world’s Anglicans. Akinola and Orombi lead between them 26 million members, a third of the world’s Anglicans and equal to the size of the Church of England.
Already the Nigerian and Ugandan churches have split with the U.S. Episcopal Church after its 2003 consecration of gay bishop living with a partner and for opening its doors to same-sex blessing ceremonies.
The split on the homosexual issue within the Anglican Communion is expected to be discussed at Nigeria’s national synod which starts Saturday in Tanzania.
Africa Anglicans Rebuke Church of England Over New Direction on Homosexuals
Archbishop Akinola warns the Church of England will 'walk alone' if it maintains its new policy on gays and lesbians within the Church.
Published 09 September 2005 | Maria Mackay