The Archbishops of Canterbury and York yesterday wrote to the heads of all the national churches in the global Anglican Communion - reminding them of a 2005 commitment they made to the pastoral support and care of gay people ahead of a trip by Archbishop Justin Welby to Africa.
Welby is visiting Africa for a five day trip in which he will be meeting Anglican leaders in South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is not visiting Nigeria or Uganda but also sent copies of the letter to the presidents of both those countries.
Nigeria recently passed strict laws banning same-sex marriage or giving aid to LGBTI people while a group of Ugandan MPs keep pushing for a law to make homosexuality an offense worthy of life imprisonment.
In their letter the Archbishops remind Anglican leaders of a communiqué issued by Anglican leaders in 2005 after a meeting of Anglican Primates from across the Anglican Communion in Dromantine, Ireland.
The Dromantine meeting was held to try to manage divisions in the church over the ordination of homosexuals after the US Episcopal Church made openly gay Gene Robinson a bishop in 2003.
Robinson’s ordination lead to threats by Anglican hardliners to split the church. However with recent events in Africa it is now the hardliners who appear to be rocking the boat, and the Archbishops’ letter makes clear reference to recent events in Nigeria and Uganda.
‘Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,’ the Archbishops write, ‘In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalizes people with same-sex attraction.’
‘In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005 … We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.
‘We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine Communiqué speaks.’
The letter was also signed by the Ugandan born Archbishop of York John Sentamu.
‘We … wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviors, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people,’ the 2005 Dromantine Comuniqué reads.
‘The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.’