7 January 2013

Kenya: Anglican Church Rejects Proposal for Gay Bishops

The Anglican Church of Kenya has denounced a decision by the Church of England's House of Bishops to allow gay priests to become bishops.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala yesterday wrote to the Bishops of England saying their move would create further confusion about Anglican moral teachings and make restoring unity to the communion an even greater challenge.

Wabukala sent the letter in his capacity as the chairman of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon). Gafcon was formed in 2008 as a response to the West's church leadership led by the Archbishop of Canterbury who had invited the Episcopal Church of the USA to attend the Lambeth Conference that year.

The Episcopal Church is a proponent of gay inclusion in the ranks of the Anglican clergy, while the Lambeth Conference is a ten-yearly meeting of bishops from the world-wide Anglican Communion. Gafcon boycotted the conference in 2008.

Wabukala was elected the third chairman of Gafcon in April 2010 after Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Graig Vennables of South America. Gafcon comprises a council of Archbishops from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Rwanda, Congo, South and and North America.

The decision by the Church of England's House of Bishops, usually headed by Archbishop William Rowans of Canterbury who retired on December 31, 2012, was reached in a meeting in early December last year only for it to come to light on December 28, three days to his retirement.

The decision announced that clergymen in civil partnerships can be eligible to serve as bishops. Wabukala said: "It is great sadness that before the New Year has hardly begun, the life of the Anglican Communion has yet again been clouded by the compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West."

He said the UK's civil partnership legislation mimics marriage for same sex couples that is clearly designed on assumption that such couples are sexually active.

While it is true that the House of Bishops requires bishops with civil partners to be celibate, this proviso is clearly unworkable, Wabukala warned.

He said it is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances, it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book.

Wabukala said that the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living.

"It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognized relationships which institutionalize and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of the Scripture, as reaffirmed for Anglicans in one of the resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference," Wabukala said.

He said the weight of the moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso, because in his teaching Jesus reaffirms that marriage is the coming together of of a man and a woman in accordance with the pattern of creation of God made man and female which must be promoted as a God given gift of marriage without compromise and ambiguity.

In his New Year message Wabukala had on December 30 stated that Anglicans in the Global South as the majority need to take greater responsibility in global leadership. There are at least 77 million Anglicans across the world.

He said: "We cannot simply stand by as we see many of the Anglican Churches in the West, including the Church of England itself, being severely compromised by the deepening spritz and moral darkness of the societies in which they are set."

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