Calling it "offensive," African Anglican primates have dismissed a recommendation made by the Lambeth Commission that they apologize for having unilaterally provided pastoral care and oversight to conservative Anglican parishes and clergy opposed to the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire and the authorization of same-sex blessings in the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster.
"We reject the moral equivalence drawn between those who have initiated the crisis and those of us in the Global South who have responded to cries for help from beleaguered friends," said a statement issued by primates gathered at the first African Anglican Bishops' Conference (AABC) in Lagos, Nigeria, last Oct. 26 to Nov. 1. "To call on us to 'express regret' and reassert our commitment to the Communion is offensive in light of our earlier statements."
The commission, headed by the Church of Ireland's Archbishop Robin Eames, had asked the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) and New Westminster to apologize for having "breached the bonds of communion" and for the "deep offence" their decisions regarding sexuality have caused to "many faithful Anglicans."
But it also asked bishops and primates who offered episcopal oversight to conservative parishes to apologize for "the consequences of their actions."
No group was asked to apologize for its actions, but rather, only the consequences.
(Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster and Bishop Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of ECUSA, have both expressed "regret" for the consequences of their churches' decisions.)
The commission, created last year by the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek ways of healing the deep divisions over sexuality within 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion (which is composed of 70 million Anglicans worldwide), released its findings in the Windsor Report last Oct. 18.
The Africans' statement also indicated that primates of the global south would disregard the commission's recommendation that they stop providing episcopal oversight to dissenting parishes outside their jurisdictions. (Two weeks before the release of the Windsor Report, Archbishop Peter Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and chair of CAPA, announced plans to establish a non-geographic Nigerian diocese, independent of ECUSA, on American soil. Four other primates are providing episcopal oversight to breakaway parishes in New Westminster.)
"We note with approval the recognition that extraordinary episcopal care is needed for congregations alienated from their diocesan bishops," the primates said. 'We remain convinced that the adequacy of that care should be determined by those who receive it."
Nine out of 12 primates belonging to the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) attended the AABC.
In a press conference, Archbishop Akinola said that African primates were "united" in their opposition to the ordination of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and same-sex blessings in New Westminster. "Homosexuality is not our problem in Africa," said Archbishop Akinola. …