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African
archbishops criticize Church of England's stance on gay
clergy

African
archbishops criticize Church of England's stance on gay
clergy

Anglican Christianity's split over homosexuality worsened Thursday as Africa's two highest-ranking archbishops jointly criticized a new Church of England policy on gays and lesbians. Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola and Ugandan archbishop Henry Luke Orombi each assailed a July 25 announcement from England's bishops that said gay priests who register same-sex partnerships under a new civil law will remain in good standing as 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," Akinola said at a Thursday news conference where he reaffirmed his stand on gay issues. Last month he accused Anglicanism's mother church of an "outrageous" departure from biblical teaching that is "totally unworkable [and] invites deception and ridicule." He further 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. Orombi said that Akinola "speaks for all of us" who lead the self-governing Anglican branches in Africa. "We see a different direction taking place" in England, Orombi said, and "we can only pray and hope they do not walk away." The churches led by Akinola and 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 Akinola, is home to half of world Anglicans. Discussion of the Anglican split is expected at Nigeria's national synod starting Saturday, a meeting of Africa's primates--or church leaders--in Tanzania, September 19-22, and a special international conference for conservative Anglicans in Cairo, beginning October 25. The Nigerian and Ugandan churches have severed ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church over its 2003 consecration of a gay bishop living with a partner and its toleration of same-sex blessing ceremonies. Same-sex rites are also at issue between Africans and the Anglican Church of Canada. In a 1998 vote, 82% 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 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. The magazine's publisher, retired American Standard Companies president Emmanuel Kampouris, said he hoped the awards would encourage Anglicans and others "fighting for orthodoxy." None of the visitors are meeting with presiding bishop Frank Griswold, head of the New York City-based Episcopal Church. They chuckled when asked about a meeting. (AP)

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