Akinola Calls for Church of England to be Suspended from Anglican Communion

The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, one of the most powerful leaders in the Anglican Communion worldwide, has called upon the Church of England to be suspended from the Communion for backing civil partnerships, says Alex Delmar-Morgan for the Sunday Times.

The comments come after a pastoral statement was released last week from English bishops saying that they would allow gay clergy to register their civil partnership as long as they agreed to abstain from sex.

In December 2005 the Civil Partnerships Act will come into force in the UK and will provide legal recognition of homosexual partners.

In response to the latest announcements by the Church of England, Peter Akinola, who leads the largest Anglican province in the world rebuked the new policies promoted in England. The condemnation continued as he called for the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his Church to face disciplinary action.

According to Virtue Online, Alex Delmar-Morgan states that Akinola demanded, “I believe that the temporary suspension of the Church of England is the right course of action to take. The church will be subjected to the same procedures and discipline that America and Canada faced.”

The Nigerian archbishop seemed to be hugely disappointed with the example that Archbishop Rowan Williams is setting for the 70-million member worldwide denomination, which Williams leads. Akinola also seemed to demand that the Anglican Communion continue away from the path laid down by Lambeth Palace.

Archbishop Akinola continued, “Lambeth Palace upholds our common historic faith. It will now lose that place of honour in the world. Must I come to Lambeth Palace in order to go to heaven. The answer is no!”

If Akinola’s demands are met then the Church of England would be suspended, and therefore removed from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which is the governing body of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Church of England would therefore lose its say in the Church’s worldwide policies.

At a meeting earlier this year, the American and Canadian sections of the Anglican Communion were suspended; America for going against the teachings of the Church in ordaining an openly homosexual man as Bishop of New Hampshire; Canada for allowing same-sex blessings.

The move however, would create a rather abnormal position for the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury who would be leading the Anglican Communion, yet technically be outside its decision-making body.

A number of top Anglican archbishops across the world have told how they have been outraged that the Church of England had voted for the Civil Partnerships Act in a House of Lords debate, with eight bishops voting in favour of the new law and just two against it.

Worldwide Church leaders have also been shocked at the huge amount of same-sex blessings that now go on in parishes across England. It is reported by Alex Delmar-Morgan for the Sunday Times that currently more than 300 ceremonies take place every year on average now in England. Now that the Civil Partnerships Act will come into force later this year, The LGCM estimates that more than 1,500 clergy will register their civil partnership in the next five years.

Backing up Akinola’s criticism of Williams, Bernard Malango, the Archbishop of Central Africa has decided to write an official letter to Williams. Malango said, “If Rowan has approved of this, it is very unfortunate. It makes me sick. They have to explain what they mean by being married and having no sex. This is the final nail in the coffin of the entire Anglican Communion.”

In addition, Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies believes that these latest developments could be the final dispute to cause a shattering split in the entire worldwide communion. He said, “I don't see how civil partnerships will work. I will have a difficult time explaining this; my people will take it in a negative way. This is an added threat at this moment of tension within the communion. Two-thirds of the communion will not be able to accept it.”

The Archbishop of Nigeria will now bring the matter to the meeting of the Anglican primates in September between the Church’s leaders in Africa, South East Asia and South America. If enough support is expressed for his proposals to suspend the Church of England, then the matter will proceed to the next meeting of the primates.