Church’s gay clergy move prompts out­rage world­wide

The Church of England - - NEWS - By Ge­orge Conger

HOWLS OF out­rage and dis­be­lief from the Angli­can Churches of Africa and Asia have greeted last month’s de­ci­sion by the House of Bish­ops to end the ban on clergy in gay civil part­ner­ships from be­ing ap­pointed to the epis­co­pate.

Arch­bish­ops rep­re­sent­ing a ma­jor­ity of the ac­tive mem­bers of the Angli­can Com­mu­nion have urged the Church of Eng­land to pull back, say­ing the bish­ops’ de­ci­sion vi­o­lates in­ter­na­tional Angli­can ac­cords, cre­ates mo­ral con­fu­sion over church doc­trine and dis­ci­pline, holds the church up to ridicule, and will pro­vide Is­lamist ex­trem­ists a fur­ther ex­cuse to per­se­cute Chris­tian mi­nori­ties.

The 12 Jan­uary state­ment by the nine pri­mates of the Global South Coali­tion fol­lows crit­i­cal re­sponses from the Arch­bish­ops of Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. Arch­bishop Ni­cholas Okoh of Nigeria said the bish­ops of his church had agreed to break with the Church of Eng­land should the English bish­ops’ de­ci­sion be im­ple­mented.

“Sadly we must also de­clare that if the Church of Eng­land con­tin­ues in this con­trary di­rec­tion we must fur­ther sep­a­rate our­selves from it and we are pre­pared to take the same ac­tions as those prompted by the de­ci­sions of The Epis­co­pal Church (USA) and the Angli­can Church of Canada 10 years ago.”

Arch­bishop Stan­ley Nta­gali of Uganda said the de­ci­sion “to al­low clergy in civil part­ner­ships to be el­i­gi­ble to be­come Bish­ops is really no dif­fer­ent from al­low­ing gay Bish­ops. This de­ci­sion vi­o­lates our Bi­b­li­cal faith and agree­ments within the Angli­can Com­mu­nion.”

The de­ci­sion to per­mit part­nered gay clergy to serve as bish­ops “only makes the bro­ken­ness of the Com­mu­nion worse and is par­tic­u­larly dis­heart­en­ing coming from the Mother Church,” he ar­gued.

The Arch­bishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala con­curred, say­ing the an­nounce­ment “will cre­ate fur­ther con­fu­sion about Angli­can mo­ral teach­ing and make restor­ing unity to the Com­mu­nion an even greater chal­lenge.”

The “pro­viso” that clergy in civil part­ner­ships re­main celi­bate is “clearly un­work­able. 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,” the Arch­bishop said on 6 Jan­uary.

How­ever, “the heart of the mat­ter is not en­force­abil­ity, but that bish­ops have a par­tic­u­lar re­spon­si­bil­ity to be ex­am­ples of godly liv­ing,” he ar­gued. “It can­not be right that they are able to en­ter into legally recog­nised re­la­tion­ships which in­sti­tu­tion­alise and con­done be­hav­iour that is com­pletely con­trary to the clear and his­toric teach­ing of Scrip­ture” and the teach­ing of the Church.

“The weight of this mo­ral teach­ing can­not be sup­ported by a flimsy pro­viso,” Arch­bishop Wabukala said.

African ob­jec­tions were not to the ap­point­ment to the epis­co­pate of men who had a same-sex sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, but to those clergy who had con­tracted a gay civil part­ner­ship be­ing ap­pointed to the epis­co­pate. The pro­viso that such re­la­tion­ships were celi­bate only when they in­volved the clergy of the Church of Eng­land was pre­pos­ter­ous, one African bishop ex­plained.

The Global South arch­bish­ops added this de­ci­sion was “wrong” and had been “taken with­out prior con­sul­ta­tion or con­sen­sus with the rest of the Angli­can Com­mu­nion at a time when the Com­mu­nion is still fac­ing ma­jor chal­lenges of dis­unity.”

“The Church, more than any time be­fore, needs to stand firm for the faith once re­ceived from Je­sus Christ through the Apos­tles and not yield to the pres­sures of the so­ci­ety,” the arch­bish­ops said.

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