Newspaper suggests Africans set to found splinter Anglican church
Africans are getting ready to strike out on their own and establish a new Anglican Church based in Egypt, reports the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.
Having had enough of the Anglican communion's discussions over the ordination of gay vicars and same-sex blessings, with help from some colleagues in Latin America, African primates, bishops, priests and laymen are to set up their own initiative, the paper reports.
The news comes after a Brazilian archbishop was banned from attending a meeting of leaders of the church in the developing world because it was claimed he was theologically unsound.
In a letter released this week, Dr Akinola insisted that Orlando Santos de Oliveira, primate of Brazil, would not be allowed to attend next month's conference because he had deposed a rebel evangelical bishop and allowed criticism of the church's Windsor report, which last year attempted to resolve issues of church discipline arising out of the appointment of an openly gay bishop in the US.
The conference is organised by Africans and Latin Americans who say they are "sick and tired" of debate about same-sex blessings and the ordination of gay Christians. "We've had enough," the Archbishop of Central Africa, Bernard Malango, said last week.
The conference will represent a new trial for Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, who has been due to attend as leader of the Anglican Communion. Lambeth Palace however was unable to confirm on Friday whether he will now be present.
Dr Williams has come under attack, along with the other bishops of the Church of England, for sanctioning a statement in July allowing clergy to register same sex civil partnerships, so long as they give assurances that they are not sexually active.
The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) and the recently formed Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean (CAPAC) represent up to two-thirds of the world's 77 million Anglicans.
In a new African-based Anglican community, it is reported that they plan to replace the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams as their spiritual leader with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Jasper Akinola, and exclude homosexuals from full church life.
A leading gay vicar - who asked not to be named - told Scotland on Sunday: "I fear for Rowan Williams if he attends the Alexandria Conference. Anglican dissidents will publicly announce that Archbishop Akinola is their new spiritual leader and that there is no place for the present Archbishop of Canterbury in the new community based in Alexandria.
CAPA's members include the Anglican dioceses of Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Egypt. It was formed in July at Nassau after Latin American Christians expressed their bitterness towards the Church of England, saying it was prevaricating on the subject of gay rights and same-sex blessings.
"We were inspired by CAPA," says Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies. He predicts "a shattering split in the entire worldwide Anglican community" following the Church of England's acceptance of the Civil Partnership Act that comes into force in December.
Anglicans in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Egypt say that when eight Church of England bishops supported the Civil Partnership Act in the House of Lords they flouted the rules of the worldwide Anglican community.
Since then, Akinola has called for the suspension of the Church of England. "I believe that the temporary suspension of the Church of England is the right course of action to take."
Akinola says that he is disappointed with the example that Williams is setting by appearing to condone the Civil Partnership Act and he advises Anglicans to steer clear of the leadership of Lambeth Palace.
"Lambeth Palace upholds our common historic faith and it will now lose that place of honour in the world."
Privately some senior figures in the Church of England and the US Episcopal Church are describing Dr Akinola's remarks as akin to setting himself up as an Anglican pope.
In a pastoral statement issued in August, English bishops said that they would allow gay clergy to register their partnerships, as long as they abstained from sex.
Akinola asked: "Is the Church of England planning to install cameras in the bedrooms of its clergy?"
However, Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said: "Personally, I'd rather see a split within the ranks of the Anglican community than for people of principle to bow to the demands of homophobic Africans."
Some Anglican churches in Africa are turning away funds from US and Canadian churches because of their tolerance of active gays in the church.
A vicar from London has also been asked by Archbishop Malango to clarify his views before being consecrated as Bishop of Lake Malawi.
The Rev Nick Henderson has two parishes in west London and Malango asked him to confirm that he subscribes to the Creed, the Bible and the Thirty-Nine Articles and "fashions his own life and his household according to the doctrine of Christ".
Until recently, he was chairman of the Modern Churchpeople's Union, which is a leading liberal forum for "open and informed theological comment in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion".
Henderson is unmarried and shares his vicarage with a male lodger, who is organist at one of his churches. In a letter to Henderson, Malango said: "It has been reported that you currently live with a male lodger. Because of reports of your advocacy of the gay and lesbian movement, I am constrained to ask a very awkward question."
Henderson was asked if he believed sexual intimacy should be restricted to within the marriage of one man and one woman. "Is there anything I should know that would make my work difficult if you took up this position?" asked the archbishop.