The Leaders Of Africa's Anglican Christian Churches Are 'Despotic' Says Nigerian Archbishop

Church of Ireland GazetteArchbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

The Archbishop who heads the leadership team at the Anglican Communion has confessed he took the job because he felt called to do something to address the "disagreement and even hatred" between fellow Anglicans.

Josiah Idowu-Fearon, appointed secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council last year, said his commitment to reconciliation remained firm.

But on the issue at the root of the disagreements, human sexuality, he admitted there was "no way" of finding agreement. "It's not possible," he said. The alternative to finding a way to live together was to allow separate "splinter groups".

Idowu-Fearon also criticised the leadership of Anglican churches in Africa as ineffective.

He said he was speaking from experience, and described them as "despotic".

He said: "Church leaders in Africa generally do not see themselves as leading the way Christ leads his Church. Rather, the African Church leader sees himself - mainly 'himself' - in the light of the traditional rulers, those with absolute authority."

Idowu-Fearon was speaking to Canon Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette.

Canon Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette

He said he had come across "hatred, vilification, character assassination".

His experience as a bridge-builder between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and across Africa meant he felt he had something he could offer to the warring Christians.

Idowu-Fearon, previously Archbishop of Kaduna in Nigeria, said he was wholly commmitted to Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference which sets a traditional line on sexuality. He described it as a "benchmark" of Anglican teaching.

He said the next Lambeth Conference will take place in 2020.

He said: "I am conservative - I've always been conservative".

He wanted to address the issue from the perspective of Jesus Himself: "What is the Lord doing in his Church?"

He spoke about the conservative grouping GAFCON, which warned in its Advent pastoral letter last week that the Anglican Church is at risk of "sleepwalking into fatal compromise". GAFCON is among the groups backing the conservative Anglican Mission in England.

Idowu-Fearon suggested he had regarded GAFCON as a breakaway movement but believed it could now be "shifting" this position. He said he had even told one of the leadership team: "It is not a movement of the Holy Spirit because it is divisive."

He pledged to back the creation of a body for dialogue and reconciliation between GAFCON and the Anglican Communion.

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