June 23, 2006

African Anglicans slam US church as gay row deepens

By Rebecca Harrison

DAKAR (Reuters) - Africa's Anglican bishops have attacked
their U.S. counterparts for failing to condemn homosexuality
after they elected a liberal woman leader who supports gay

In an open letter after a meeting in Kampala, they also
told conservative Episcopalians that they still supported them
in their opposition to the pro-gay stand of the U.S. church,
which includes the first gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Council of
Anglican Provinces of Africa, said in the letter that Anglican
primates from the developing world would meet in September to
give a more detailed statement on the U.S. church.

Akinola, one of the Church's most outspoken voices against
gay rights, said that the African bishops had carefully
followed what was said at a U.S. Anglican convention this week
in Ohio.

"We have observed the commitment shown by your church to
the full participation of people in same gender sexual
relationships in civic life, church life and leadership," he
said on behalf of African bishops in a statement dated

"Our churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on
marriage set out in the Holy Scripture and repeatedly affirmed
throughout the Anglican Communion," he wrote.

The Anglican Communion, a loose union of national churches
representing 77 million around the world, was plunged into
crisis after the Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop
in 2003 and Canadian Anglicans started blessing same-sex

African bishops, who believe homosexuality is un-biblical,
un-African and morally wrong, say the U.S. church is flouting
centuries old Anglican teaching and must repent for its
actions, raising fears of a schism within the Communion.

In a compromise aimed at appeasing conservatives and
averting a full-blown split, U.S. bishops this week agreed in a
non-binding resolution to try to avoid consecrating openly gay
bishops but stopped short of condemning homosexuality.

But Akinola's letter made it clear the Africans thought
this did not go far enough.

"When we meet with other primates from the Global South in
September, we shall present our concerted pastoral and
structural response," he added, referring to the developing
world group of mostly conservative Anglican churches.