Conservative African Anglicans Threaten to Sever Ties With World Church

By Stephen Mbogo | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

Nairobi, Kenya ( - Anglican Church leaders in Africa have described as a "satanic attack on the church" the proposed consecration in London of a homosexual bishop and are threatening to cut ties with the Church of England.

The head of the Anglican Church in Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, said those advancing consecration of the Rev. Jeffery John, an open homosexual, were "throwing themselves out of the holy communion.

"The Anglican Church in Kenya is completely opposed to this move."

Nzimbi complained that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams - the titular head of the world's Anglicans - had assured opponents of the move that it would never happen.

Bishop William Waqo of the Anglican Church in Kenya said its stand on the homosexuality issue was "very clear."

"We are completely opposed to such an ordination and marriage," he said here. "It is
not in line with biblical principles and Christian ethics."

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola was even more direct in his views, saying African Anglicans would "sever relationships with...anyone who strays over the boundaries."

In a statement, Akinola charged that "the rich churches in Europe, America and Canada" had for many years used their wealth to intimidate their poorer counterparts in Africa.

African Anglicans were aware that their stance could prompt "a backlash" from the wealthy Western churches.

"Our boldness in condemning the spiritual bankruptcy of these churches must be matched by our refusal to receive financial help from them," he said, adding that African churches should become financially self-reliant as a matter of urgency.

Akinola's counterpart in Uganda, Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, said the Anglican Church there also totally opposed the consecration of a homosexual bishop and was optimistic that it would not take place in the end.

The Ugandan church would consider its options if the Church of England went ahead with the plan, Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo added.

Anglican dioceses in other parts of the developing world, including the West Indies, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, are also reported to object strongly to the move.

The bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, last month appointed John as suffragan (assistant) bishop in Reading, a city falling under the Oxford diocese.

John admits being a homosexual and having a long-term same-sex relationship. He says he has been celibate since the 1990s.

Williams issued a statement last week saying John's appointment did not violate the Church of England's teachings.

Williams said the matter was a local one and cautioned that it should not distract the church from "the priorities of our mission."

Conservative Anglicans are also concerned about the recent election of a divorced homosexual priest as a bishop in the U.S. and a Canadian diocese's decision to recognize same-sex unions.

Of the world's 77 million Anglicans, at least 20 million are Africans, and a majority is from developing nations where homosexuality is frowned upon.

Henry Naedo, an Anglican and media worker in East Africa, said the move was "anti-biblical" and "sinful."

Fr. Emmanuel Ngugi of the Catholic Church in Nairobi was reluctant to speak out on the issue, saying those Anglican churches that had embraced homosexuality "may have had
their own reasons for doing so."

An official of the African Inland Church in Nairobi, who asked not to be named, said the proposed consecration of a homosexual bishop "could set a very serious precedent and should be resisted by all means necessary."

Last week, leading opponents of the move from around the world met in Oxford under the name Anglican Mainstream and called on Harries to rescind the decision, but to no avail.

The group warned that the unity of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion worldwide would be jeopardized if the consecration, planned for October, goes ahead.

The row threatens to split the Anglican Church just as disagreements over the appointment of women bishops did in the 1990s.

During that dispute, a number of conservative Anglican clergymen left the denomination and joined the Catholic Church.

Other clergy and lay members moved to breakaway communities such as the "Anglican Catholic Church."

Still other opponents of the ordination of women aligned themselves with traditionalist movements that remained within the church, such as one called Forward in Faith.

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