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 at the New York Hilton: “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”.
Archbishop Akinola also gave a dismal forecast on the current state of affairs within the worldwide Anglican Communion: "Let there be no illusions, the Communion is broken and fragmented. This Communion will break."
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.