Bishops of the Anglican Communion in Africa will be meeting here tomorrow with the critical issues of homosexuality and ordination of women as priests.
As a prelude, the chairman of Africa's Anglican bishops conference and the Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, issued a response to "The Windsor Report 2004." In it they indict the global leadership of the Anglican Communion for doing nothing tangible to bring order following a one-year study of homosexuality and North American bishops' changing of traditional theology regarding sexuality. They also rebuke the church leadership in North America and Europe for bringing shame to the Anglican Communion, and in particular to Anglicans in Africa and other developing nations.
The Most Rev. Akinola's response to the Windsor Report, which was released by the Anglican Church in Nigeria on October 19, notes that the report has not provided the needed prescription to the crisis that has embroiled the global Anglican Communion.
"After an initial reading," Archbishop Akinola writes, "it is clear to me that the report falls far short of the prescription needed for this current crisis. It fails to confront the reality that a small, economically privileged group of people has sought to subvert the Christian faith and impose their new and false doctrine on the wider community of faithful believers."
He laments that "We have watched in sadness as sisters and brothers who have sought to maintain their allegiance to the 'faith once delivered to the saints' have been marginalized and persecuted for their faith. We have been filled with grief as we have witnessed the decline of the North American Church that was once filled with missionary zeal and yet now seems determined to bury itself in a deadly embrace with the spirit of the age."
Instead of a clear call for repentance, the Most Rev. Akinola states that the Windsor Report offers warm words of sentimentality for those who have shown no sorrow for their actions, while harshly condemning "those who have reached out a helping hand to friends in need of pastoral and spiritual care."
"Why, throughout the document, is there such a marked contrast between the language used against those who are subverting the faith and that used against those of us, from the Global South, who, are trying to bring the church back to the Bible?" he states. "Where are the expressions of deep concern, for the men and women, whose witness is jeopardized and whose lives are at risk because of the actions of ECUSA? [Episcopal Church USA] Where are the words of "deep regret" for the impact of ECUSA's actions upon the Global South and our missionary efforts? Where is the language of rebuke for those who are promoting sexual sins as holy and acceptable behaviour? The imbalance is bewildering. It is wrong to use equal language for unequal actions."
According to Archbishop Akinola, the report correctly notes that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada have pushed the Anglican Communion to the breaking point. "It rightly states that they did not listen to the clear voices of the Communion and rejected the counsel of all four Instruments of Unity. Therefore it is surprising that the primary recommendation of the report is 'greater sensitivity' instead of heartfelt repentance."
Archbishop Akinola says by stubbornly vowing to continue with their satanic pastoral policies the Anglican churches in the global north are bent on destroying the global Anglican Communion.
"Already the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA has stated that he sees no need to halt welcoming practicing homosexuals into all orders of ministry! In addition, the bishop of New Westminster has indicated that same sex blessings will continue. Thus they are hell bent on destroying the fabric of our common life, and we are told to sit and wait. "
He warned that the Anglican Communion in Africa can no longer allow things to degenerate to the point that the devil is glorified in place of Jesus Christ. "We have been asked to express regret for our actions and 'affirm our desire to remain in the Communion.' How patronizing!" he states. "We will not be intimidated. In the absence of any signs of repentance and reform from those who have torn the fabric of our Communion, and while there is continuing oppression of those who uphold the Faith, we cannot forsake our duty to provide care and protection for those who cry out for our help."
He stresses that unless the churches in the Anglican Communion that have brought these problems into the church are ready to make amends and do what is right in the light of the Bible, then the Anglican Communion in Africa is prepared to go it alone.
"The Bible says that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. The report rightly observes that if the 'call to halt' is ignored, 'then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart.' The Episcopal Church and Diocese of New Westminster are already walking alone on this, and if they do not repent and return to the fold, they will find that they are all alone. They will have broken the Anglican Communion," he concludes.
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More Christianity Today coverage of the crisis in the Anglican Communion includes:
N.T. Wright: Anglican Report Is 'Fireproofing the House' | Top theologian on Lambeth Commission talks about what happened behind the scenes, whether the report should have been tougher, and why it's critical of some conservative bishops. (Oct. 21, 2004)
Windsor Report Leaves Conservative Episcopalians Hopping Mad | Conservative network leader: "The disease of the U.S. church has found its way into this report." (Oct. 19, 2004)
Stronger Action Needed, Say Global Anglican Leaders | "The primates will add teeth" to Windsor Report, conservatives predict, hope. (Oct. 19, 2004)
Disappointed Anglican Conservatives Mull Options, Threaten Revolt | Americans must belong to Episcopal Church, report says. (Oct. 19, 2004)
Report Rebukes Episcopalians for Disunity but Declines Sanctions | U.S. church in limbo as conservative dissidents mull their options. (Oct. 18, 2004)
Weblog: Anglican Report Treats Conservatives Harsher than Liberals | News, predictions that commission would sanction Episcopal Church were greatly exaggerated. (Oct. 18, 2004)
Anglican Primates Respond to the Windsor Report | What church leaders from around the world are saying about the Eames Commission and the future of Anglicanism. (updated regularly)