22 February 2007

Africa: Anglican Bishops Issue Ultimatum Over Homosexuality

Nairobi — The Anglican Church in Africa could break away from the cradle in England by September over the raging controversy on homosexuality and gay marriages.

Anglican Bishops in Africa have given their mother church up to September to recant or risk losing their churches in a continent where its missionaries risked both body and limb to establish congregations in extremely harsh conditions.

The head of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, said the Church in Africa will make the decision to either break away or not depending on whether Canterbury, the Church's headquarters in London, would have acted on their ultimatum.

"We have given the Anglican Church an ultimatum to review the situation and by September we will know whether to continue together or apart," Akinola said on Thursday.

The Anglican community, a loose union of national churches representing 77 million faithful around the world, was plunged into crisis after the Episcopal Church (the Anglican Church in the US) ordained a gay bishop in 2003 and Canadian Anglicans started blessing same-sex marriages.

Struggle to hold together liberals and conservatives

The Church has since then struggled to hold together its liberal minority and conservative majority, mostly Africans who opposed the naming of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New York.

"When we met at the London conference in March last year, we decided that we could not endorse any plan to ordain people who are living in same-sex partnership nor could we endorse any plan to officially celebrate same-sex marriages because this two are contrary to God's word," he said.

"But some churches followed their own way and ordained an openly gay man as a bishop," he told journalists at a Nairobi hotel, after the archbishops launched a HIV/Aids programme that will be run by the Anglican Church.

The ordination of the gay bishop was against the Church's beliefs and what they did has actually torn the fabric of our communion, Akinola regretted.

As a result, Akinola said, the African bishops appointed a commission called the 'Windsor', to look into the matter and seek answers from the Episcopal Church.

"We demanded that they should repent and stop those activities. We also gave the some requirement that they must fulfill so that they can see whether they will change, he added.

He said the African bishops converged in Dar es Salaam last week, and reviewed the response but it was not satisfactory.

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