African bishops ask Anglicans to heed same-sex moratoria

Conservative bishops in Africa issued a communiqué expressing concern over "progressive developments" in the West and committing themselves to tackling the social ills of their continent.

The statement came at the conclusion of a weeklong conference in Uganda, where bishops from more than 400 dioceses met to discuss the crises they face within the church and outside the church.

The bishops agreed in their communiqué that "in order to keep the ethos and tradition of the Anglican Communion in a credible way, it is obligatory" of all provinces in the global Anglican Communion to continue to observe and honour the moratoria on the ordination of partnered homosexuals, the blessing of same-sex unions, and cross-border interventions.

The conservative bishops said they were "very saddened" by the recent action of The Episcopal Church in the United States to consecrate a partnered lesbian in Los Angeles. The Rev Mary Glasspool was the second openly homosexual bishop to be consecrated in the US body despite calls for restraint by the wider Communion.

Two Anglican provinces were sympathetic to the hurt and anger felt by most of the bishops in Africa but opposed severing ties with The Episcopal Church.

"We recognise that all the Provinces and diocese in Africa do not condone TEC's action. However, Provinces differ in their relationships with TEC in light of their actions," the provinces of Central Africa and Southern Africa stated in a letter, according to VirtueOnline.

"Some Provinces continue to value their historical partnerships with TEC and its organs. To discard these relationships would be tantamount to abandoning our call of the gospel to struggle with each other's failure as we journey with Christ in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation as we were passionately reminded and to live with our rich diversity."

Also, while many of the bishops in Africa have formally recognised a newly formed Anglican body in North America that is seen as a rival to The Episcopal Church, the two African provinces said they do not support the new body's "position for legitimacy through the elimination of TEC".

"Any thought of abandoning our Communion with any member of the body will hurt; for when one part of the body is injured the whole suffers," they stated.

The Anglican Church in North America was established last summer.

During the 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference, several bishops met with the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Church of Uganda was among those who told Williams that there should be no more diplomacy on the matter of homosexuality, as reported by CNN.

"He (Williams) spoke what was on his mind and we also spoke," Orombi explained. "We impressed it on him that he had totally gone in a different direction and he has to sort it out.

"We sympathise with his position as head of the Anglican communion suffering disunity on moral grounds and teaching of the Scripture," he added. "We made our minds very clear and he is going back knowing there is no grey area on our part."

Though the conference last week addressed the highly publicised and divisive issue of homosexuality, development issues in Africa were at the top of the bishops' agenda, according to Williams.

Part of the African bishops' statement reads: "We must be actively involved in working with partners at all levels to ensure equal access to medical care, food security and the promoting of good health practices to prevent the major causes of death on the continent, with particular attention to primary health care for African families, especially mothers, children and the elderly.

"The Anglican Church in Africa must join the global movement that refuses to stay silent about the current socio-economic and political state of affairs. We should stop agonizing over the deplorable state of African underdevelopment and start organising towards a proactive, pragmatic engagement with good governance and infra-structural development."

The bishops also called for commitments to bring an end to all forms of abuse and slavery, and to promoting education.