June 22, 2006

Africa’s Anglicans applaud US move on gay bishops

By Tume Ahemba

LAGOS (Reuters) - African bishops on Thursday applauded a
decision by the U.S. Episcopal Church to avoid consecrating
more openly gay bishops but said liberals must show true
repentance if a rift in the Anglican community is to heal.

The U.S. arm of the community made the decision on
Wednesday in an about-turn aimed at appeasing the worldwide
church and avoiding a split with its more conservative parts,
particularly in Africa.

Many African bishops condemn homosexuality as un-biblical,
un-African and morally wrong.

In Nigeria, the Anglican Bishop of Lagos West, Peter
Adebiyi, said the vote was a step in the right direction, but
that gay bishops already serving in the United States should
step down.

"It shows that they are repenting and that is good for the
Church and it is also good for them," Adebiyi told Reuters. "It
is a step forward for reconciliation. But they have to show us
they are serious this time."

The consecration three years ago in New Hampshire of Gene
Robinson, the first bishop in an openly gay relationship in
more than 450 years of church history, threw Anglicans into

The U.S. resolution fell short of the recommendations of a
report issued at the behest of the church's leader, Archbishop
of Canterbury Rowan Williams, which suggested a formal
moratorium on consecrations of gay bishops.

Williams said it was not clear how fully the U.S. decision
would allay concerns raised by the world church's spiritual
leadership. Africa's voice in the church is growing louder as
membership in the region grows rapidly.

The Anglican Central African Province, which consists of
Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, applauded the U.S.
church for heeding God's word, rather than "human reasoning."

"This is what we have always asked and we are happy that
the word of God is prevailing," said Father Eason Mpembamoyo,
spokesman for the province's archbishop.

Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, the Anglican Bishop of Kumasi in
Ghana, said the acceptance of gay bishops was chasing young
people away and eroding the moral teaching at the heart of
church's faith.

"Homosexuality is against our biblical teachings. We are
not going to succumb to any compromise," he told Reuters.

"The Anglican Church is suffering because of it," he said.
"We love the Episcopal Church in America, there is no doubt
about that, but this is a matter of faith."

(Additional reporting by Mabvuto Banda in Blantyre and Orla
Ryan in Accra)