- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Anglican Christianity’s split over homosexuality worsened yesterday as Africa’s two most important archbishops joined to criticize a new Church of England policy.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola and Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi each assailed a July 25 announcement from England’s bishops that said homosexual priests who register same-sex partnerships under a new civil law will remain in good standing so long as they promise to remain celibate. The English bishops also said that lay Anglicans who register civil unions will not be denied the sacraments.

“If England adopts a new faith, alien to what has been handed to us together, they will walk apart. Simple as that,” Archbishop Akinola said yesterday at press conference where he reaffirmed his stand on gay issues.

Last month, Archbishop Akinola accused the Church of England of an “outrageous” departure from biblical teaching that is “totally unworkable [and] invites deception and ridicule.”

The Nigerian and Ugandan churches have broken ties with the Episcopal Church — the American branch of the Anglican church — over its 2003 consecration of Bishop V. Eugene Robinson, a homosexual living with a partner and the Episcopal Church’s toleration of same-sex “blessing” ceremonies. Some conservative Episcopalian ministers and laymen have affiliated with the African church in protest of the U.S. church’s policies.

Archbishop Akinola has suggested that world Anglicanism must now discipline the Church of England along similar lines that Anglican bodies worldwide have taken against liberal actions by the U.S. and Canadian churches.

Archbishop Orombi said that Archbishop Akinola “speaks for all of us” who lead the self-governing Anglican branches in Africa. “We see a different direction taking place” in England, Archbishop Orombi said, and “we can only pray and hope they do not walk away.”

The churches led by Archbishop Akinola and Archbishop Orombi combined have 26 million members, a third of the world’s Anglicans and equal to the Church of England membership. The continent of Africa, whose Anglican council is chaired by Archbishop Akinola, is home to half of world Anglicans.

Discussion of the Anglican split is expected at Nigeria’s national synod starting tomorrow, a meeting of Africa’s primates — or church leaders — in Tanzania Sept. 19-22 and a special international conference for conservative Anglicans in Cairo beginning Oct. 25.

In a 1998 vote, 82 percent of the world’s Anglican bishops opposed homosexual relationships on biblical grounds.

The two archbishops were in New York to receive awards from the online magazine Kairos Journal (www.kairosjournal.org) for “their bold and consistent stand” against the U.S. and Canadian changes. Honored with them were Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of southern South America and Archbishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung of Southeast Asia.

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