Episcopal bishop rejects Nigerian criticism on gays - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
September 20, 2005

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Episcopal bishop rejects Nigerian criticism on gays

-20/09/05

As the argument over human sexuality continues to boil over within the worldwide Anglican Communion, a respected figure in the Episcopal Church USA ñ which has been attacked for the affirmative position of some of its members towards lesbian and gay people in ministry ñ has forcefully rebutted his Churchís prime Nigerian critic.

Responding to comments by Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Bishop of Washington DC, the Rt Rev John B. Chane, writing in his September diocesan letter, declares: ìOne thing I can say about the American Church and her bishops is that we take very seriously the teachings of Jesus.î He also accuses the Nigerian Church of neglecting the most vulnerable.

Dr Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, which says it has ìredefinedî its relationship with all other Anglican Churches, recently lambasted a cautious Church of England bishopsí response to the UK civil partnerships law. This allowed registration of same-sex clergy couples who give a vow of celibacy.

The Archbishop also wanted to see the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada ìdisciplinedî by the Communion over homosexuality, though none of its instruments has the power to do this. He declared: ìNo Church can ignore the teaching of the Bible with impunity.î

It is this which has incensed Bishop Chane, who replies: ìWho has been left with the ultimate authority to interpret the teaching of the Bible? Certainly such important work has not been left up to the Archbishop of Nigeria alone. And if the Church is to really focus on the issues of the Bibleís teaching and the core teachings of Jesus Christ, why does this Archbishop spend so much time on human sexuality issues while so many of his countrymen and women are oppressed by poverty, illiteracy and violence?î

Chane continues: ìWhere is the strong voice of the Nigerian Anglican Church in opposing the continued neglect of vulnerable women and children, or in advocating on behalf of the poorest of the poor? Jesus was very clear in his hard teachings that one could always tell the righteous from the damned by whether they lived into feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and visiting those who were in prison.î

Referring to the situation in the USA, the Bishop said: ìOur Church may be divided in painful ways about the issues of human sexuality and the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, but we are united in fighting poverty and hunger and are faithful in attempting to live into the mandates of Christís Gospel about radical hospitality extended to the least among us.î

ìWhen our government does not respond to the needs of the least among us, our Church, its laity, clergy and bishops respond,î added Bishop Chane. We work very hard at offering the resources available within our dioceses, whether they be large or small, to assist in eliminating hunger, disease, genocide and violence against women and children.î

The Church of Nigeria is one of the largest in the Anglican Communion. It is predominantly evangelical and does not ordain women. A newly formed Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in America is now starting a network of chaplaincies across the USA to offer ìrefugeî to Episcopalians unhappy with the consecration of the openly gay Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire, and similar developments.

Find books now:

Episcopal bishop rejects Nigerian criticism on gays

-20/09/05

As the argument over human sexuality continues to boil over within the worldwide Anglican Communion, a respected figure in the Episcopal Church USA - which has been attacked for the affirmative position of some of its members towards lesbian and gay people in ministry - has forcefully rebutted his Church's prime Nigerian critic.

Responding to comments by Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Bishop of Washington DC, the Rt Rev John B. Chane, writing in his September diocesan letter, declares: 'One thing I can say about the American Church and her bishops is that we take very seriously the teachings of Jesus.' He also accuses the Nigerian Church of neglecting the most vulnerable.

Dr Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, which says it has 'redefined' its relationship with all other Anglican Churches, recently lambasted a cautious Church of England bishops' response to the UK civil partnerships law. This allowed registration of same-sex clergy couples who give a vow of celibacy.

The Archbishop also wanted to see the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada 'disciplined' by the Communion over homosexuality, though none of its instruments has the power to do this. He declared: 'No Church can ignore the teaching of the Bible with impunity.'

It is this which has incensed Bishop Chane, who replies: 'Who has been left with the ultimate authority to interpret the teaching of the Bible? Certainly such important work has not been left up to the Archbishop of Nigeria alone. And if the Church is to really focus on the issues of the Bible's teaching and the core teachings of Jesus Christ, why does this Archbishop spend so much time on human sexuality issues while so many of his countrymen and women are oppressed by poverty, illiteracy and violence?'

Chane continues: 'Where is the strong voice of the Nigerian Anglican Church in opposing the continued neglect of vulnerable women and children, or in advocating on behalf of the poorest of the poor? Jesus was very clear in his hard teachings that one could always tell the righteous from the damned by whether they lived into feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and visiting those who were in prison.'

Referring to the situation in the USA, the Bishop said: 'Our Church may be divided in painful ways about the issues of human sexuality and the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, but we are united in fighting poverty and hunger and are faithful in attempting to live into the mandates of Christ's Gospel about radical hospitality extended to the least among us.'

'When our government does not respond to the needs of the least among us, our Church, its laity, clergy and bishops respond,' added Bishop Chane. We work very hard at offering the resources available within our dioceses, whether they be large or small, to assist in eliminating hunger, disease, genocide and violence against women and children.'

The Church of Nigeria is one of the largest in the Anglican Communion. It is predominantly evangelical and does not ordain women. A newly formed Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in America is now starting a network of chaplaincies across the USA to offer 'refuge' to Episcopalians unhappy with the consecration of the openly gay Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire, and similar developments.

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