The leader of a global group of traditional Anglicans has condemned the Church of England for “compromising with the secular preoccupations of the West” in an attack that significantly ratchets up the latest fallout between liberals and conservative over the thorny issue of homosexuality.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya and the leader of the influential Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, made the comments in a statement reacting to the recent decision by the Church of England to lift the ban on gay but celibate men becoming bishops.
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans represents conservative congregations in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia who are vehemently opposed to same sex unions and gay clerics. They formed four years ago and threatened to break away from the global Anglican Communion if openly gay men continued to be welcomed as clerics in more liberal dioceses such as the United States and Britain.
Their threats to create “a church within a church” were dampened last year when the Church of England, which is the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, signalled that there would be a moratorium on any gay men being appointed bishops in their dioceses. But the row has erupted once more after senior bishops announced that they were now lifting that ban.
Dr Wabukala, who remarried last year following the death of his first wife, hit out at that decision in a tersely worded statement released today. “It is a great sadness that before the New Year has hardly begun, the life of the Anglican Communion has yet again been clouded by compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West,” he said.
In a stark message he warned that the move would make “restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge” raising the spectre once more of the group he represents splintering from the main Anglican Church.
A renewed international row among the world’s 80million strong Anglican Communion is a major headache for the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He will need to decide whether to carry on the policies of his predecessor Rowan Williams – a man who desperately tried to keep the international traditionalists inside the Anglican “big tent”. Welby himself has spent significant periods of time in Africa and will know how implacably opposed to gay rights many church leaders are in countries with prominent Anglican congregations such as Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
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