Homosexuality Dispute: African Priests Will No Longer Train in the West

By Stephen Mbogo | July 7, 2008 | 8:15pm EDT

Nairobi, Kenya (CNSNews.com) - Anglican Church leaders in Africa have decided they will no longer send priests to the United States and Europe for training, so as not to expose them to teachings that condone same-sex "marriage" and ordination of homosexuals.

"We have to find ways of developing our own theology," Archbishop Peter Akinola, the head of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, told a summit of 300 bishops meeting in Lagos, Nigeria.

The African bishops are meeting to discuss their future ties with the worldwide Anglican Communion in the light of the row over homosexuality, and to review the church's role in the fight against AIDS, poverty and war in Africa.

The homosexuality issue emerged as a deeply divisive factor in the denomination with last year's ordination of openly homosexual Gene Robinson as Episcopalian (Anglican) bishop of New Hampshire.

Canadian dioceses also agreed to approve same-sex "marriage," adding to the unhappiness of conservatives in the worldwide church, most of whom are reported to be in Africa and Asia - where the church is also experiencing its fastest growth.

Anglican priests in Africa often attend "capacity-building" training courses in the U.S. and Europe. Churches in Africa also receive financial grants from the West.

The bishops said they were ready to do without the assistance if the teaching of the church was to change to accommodate trends they oppose.

"If anybody thinks that on account of money we are going to change our theology and we are going to change our thinking, they have missed the point," Akinola said.

The African bishops also rejected a key report released earlier this month by the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the world's Anglicans, who condemned the ordination of homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages.

The report failed to condemn homosexuality and called for forgiveness within the Anglican community to facilitate unity within the church.

Akinola told the bishops that the report was unacceptable because the Anglican Church in Africa would not want in any way to be associated with homosexuality.

"This [homosexuality] is an abomination. The Bible says that," he added.

The opinion expressed by the African church is also based on the traditional African view that homosexual behavior is unnatural.

In African culture, same-sex relationships are viewed as taboo and, in the past, often brought severe punishment from members of the community.

A radio station in Uganda was temporarily closed last month after it broadcast a live interview with homosexuals.

At present, more than 20 African countries have some form of legislation banning same-sex relationships.

The Anglican summit was opened by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who supported the bishops, urging them to maintain their stand against the "totally unacceptable tendency" towards same-sex marriages.

"Such a tendency is clearly un-Biblical, unnatural and definitely un-African," he said.

Jeremiah Mwanura, a religious scholar in Nairobi, said the Anglican Church in Africa will have to de-link itself completely from the "mother" church in England if it is to maintain a congregation in Africa.

"The Anglican congregation in Africa may slowly develop as an independent entity. Otherwise, people will lose trust and defect to other denominations."

Africans make up about one-half of the 70 million Anglicans worldwide.

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