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Nigerian Archbishop Contacts Episcopal Breakaways in Va.

Nigeria's conservative Anglican archbishop has contacted for the first time the nine Episcopal churches in the state of Virginia whose members voted this month to leave and align with him.
( [email protected] ) Dec 25, 2006 01:41 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nigeria's conservative Anglican archbishop has contacted for the first time the nine Episcopal churches in the state of Virginia whose members voted this month to leave and align with him.

The churchs' new leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola, addressed in a letter some concerns about his support for a proposed law in Nigeria that would make same-sex union ceremonies illegal. The law also would ban public affection between same-sex couples and private meetings of gay advocacy groups.

"We recognize that there are genuine concerns about individual human rights" in the law "that must be addressed both in the framing ... and its implementation," wrote Akinola, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.

Akinola did not specify what he would propose changing. It also was not clear how such modifications would be made under the Nigerian legal system.

Until now, Akinola has simply urged passage of the measure.

Among the Virginia churches that announced their members had voted overwhelmingly to break away were Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church. The parishes together claim more than 4,000 members.

The Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of the global Anglican Communion, has been under pressure from traditionalists since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

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