African bishops have reacted to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s letter reminding them of their duty to LGBTI people, with the bishops of Uganda and Kenya telling the Church of England to back off on having a conversation about whether same-sex relationships could be tolerated in the church.
Ugandan Primate Bishop Stanley Ntagali accused the Church of England of hypocrisy over homosexuality and suggested that his church was prepared to break from the global Anglican Communion if pushed too far.
‘We sincerely hope the Archbishops and governing bodies of the Church of England will step back from the path they have set themselves on so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church,’ Ntagali said in reference to the Church of England’s Pilling Report examining the question of whether same-sex relationships could be blessed by the church.
Ntagali also defended his church’s treatment of those ‘struggling with sexual brokenness,’ saying his church had worked to remove the death penalty from Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
‘The Church of Uganda is encouraged by the work of Uganda’s Parliament in amending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, to reduce sentencing guidelines through a principle of proportionality, and to remove the clause on reporting homosexual behaviour, as we had recommended in our 2010 position statement on the Bill,’ Ntagali said.
‘This frees our clergy and church leaders to fulfill the 2008 resolution of our House of Bishops to “offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning”’
That 2008 Ugandan resolution declared that, ‘The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.’
Kenyan Primate Bishop Eliud Wabukala, who is also the chairman of the anti-gay, anti-female ordination GAFCON group of bishops who have threatened to break away from the Anglican Communion was also concerned about the Pilling report, saying of homosexuality, ‘We cannot … allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures.’
‘Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the Pilling Report, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships.
‘Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of “facilitated conversation” should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.
‘While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling.’
Wabukala implied that whether such a conversation could be held in the church could be influential on whether the GAFCON churches continued to remain in the Anglican Communion.
‘I cannot … commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these "facilitated conversations" should be introduced across the Communion,’ Wabukala said.
‘This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. … Without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false.’
Archbishop Welby is in the midst of a five day visit to Africa and was last in Southern Sudan.