Mirroring reactions to gay-friendly moves in the U.S. and Canada, some Anglican leaders are objecting to the Church of England’s decision to allow gay bishops.
Anglican leaders in Africa are among the strongest critics of the action, Reuters reports. “Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, effectively the largest province in the Communion, said such reforms ‘could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion,’” the news service notes.
The Church of England, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which also includes the U.S. Episcopal Church, last week announced that gay clergy who are in civil partnerships, the U.K. version of a civil union, would be eligible to become bishops if they pledge to remain celibate. The Episcopal Church allows partnered gay bishops without the celibacy requirement, and it saw some congregations break off after the appointment of Gene Robinson as the church’s first openly gay bishop in 2003. Conservative church members were also upset when Canada’s Anglican Church began blessing same-sex unions in 2002.
Okoh followed Ugandan and Kenyan archbishops in denouncing the Church of England’s action. He said the church “is one step removed from the moral precipice we have already witnessed in the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada” and that the “assurances of celibacy … are both unworkable and unenforceable.”