Wednesday, 25 August 2010

African Bishops condemn homosexuality at meeting in Uganda

Ugandan Archbishop heads campaign to condemn homosexuality at the second All African Bishops' conference in Uganda, where more than 400 African bishops are meeting to discuss issues concerning the African continent. Homosexuality has been a contentious issue that continues to divide the Anglican church.

ENTEBBE, UGANDA (AUGUST 24, 2010) REUTERS - African bishops meeting in Entebbe, Uganda on Tuesday (August 24) condemned homosexuality and said it is against the "word of God".
The ongoing second All African Bishops' conference brings together more than 400 African bishops to discuss issues on the continent.

The Anglican Church has been torn for years by disputes about authority over Church teaching, especially on gay rights. Orthodox Anglicans, especially in Africa, vehemently reject pro-homosexual reforms as sinful and unbiblical.

Recently, the spiritual head of the world's 80 million Anglicans, Archbishop of Cantebury, Rowan Williams tried to mediate in gay rights disputes splitting the Church, by suggesting that member churches approving gay bishops and same-sex unions and those actively opposing them be sidelined from official doctrinal committees.

The initiative by Williams -- who is also attending the Entebbe meeting, was sparked by the consecration of an openly lesbian bishop in California earlier this year.

But Archbishop Williams's move seems to have fallen on deaf ears, with members saying such action was against traditions of the Anglican Church.

Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, speaking at the conference said African churches were not going to compromise on their stand against homosexuality.

"The orthodox believers like we in Africa, the majority of us have stood clearly to say what my brother Bernard has said. Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God. In this country we cherish the word of God and if you are proclaiming that word of God, you want to stick to it faithfully," said Orombi.

Orombi criticised the church in the West for "abandoning the word of God".

"A hundred or so years ago, Europe, America brought us the gospel, now that gospel was planted on the soil and hearts of Africans, we received it, it has grown, it has borne fruits. Now for us we have the responsibility to take it back to England. I am just coming from England two weeks ago. I was preaching to the English congregation of over 17,000 people. Now the hunger for the word of God is over there. The warmth -- like hot bread of the word is in Africa, so now am calling to the Africans to say it is time go back to the sending church, America and Europe to take back the gospel," said Orombi.

Orombi said the meeting was a good opportunity for African Bishops to voice their concerns about the issue of homosexuality to Williams, who attended the conference.

"We are happy Archbishop Rowan is here -- and you have intimated when you heard him speak -- it is good that Archbishop Rowan is here, because then we can talk, then we can open our hearts to him because then he can hear, sit with him, and the fact that he is here, we are going to engage him as prime mates. We are going to express to him where we stand, we are going to express to him what our pains are, where our disagreements are and it is very good for us to do that," Orombi said.

Archbishop Williams did not mention the gay rights topic in his speech to the conference. Instead he spoke about sacrifice and prayed for clergy who were working in areas where it was difficult to speak against injustices in society.

"In our own times, there have been many who have courageously continued in this tradition and here we may think specially today with celebration of thanksgiving, of our brothers in Sudan, in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) in Zimbabwe, whose authorities as pastors in the Church of God, rests so deeply on their willingness to take risks alongside their flock, and for them," said Archbishop Williams.

Gay rights in Africa came to the foreground this year with the arrest and conviction of a gay couple in Malawi, who married in a traditional ceremony and after an Ugandan lawmaker proposed an anti-gay bill including the death penalty for some 'offences' related to homosexuality.