One of the Anglican Communion’s most outspoken voices against homosexuality said the churches in Africa were 'saddened' that delegates meeting for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. seemed unable to embrace the essential recommendations necessary for the healing of divisions within the worldwide church network.
In a letter written on behalf of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), the Most Rev Peter Akinola told the Episcopal Church that the primates of the CAPA "have followed with great interest" their triennial meeting last week in Columbus, Ohio, and that they have "earnestly prayed" for the development of U.S. church’s response to The Windsor Report – a 2004 document in which Anglicans asked the Episcopal Church for the prohibition on homosexual bishops, a temporary ban on developing official prayers for blessing same-sex couples and an apology for the turmoil caused by the consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003.
"We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same gender sexual relationships in civic life, church life and leadership," Akinola wrote.
"We have noted the many affirmations of this throughout the Convention," he added.
Although ECUSA delegates last week approved a last-ditch attempt by outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to salvage worldwide Anglican unity, voting to adopt a resolution that calls on U.S. church leaders to "exercise restraint" when considering gay candidates for bishop, Akinola’s letter made it clear that the African primates thought the resolution did not go far enough.
"As you know, our Churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scriptures and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion," he wrote.
While the primates of the CAPA were "moved" by the ECUSA’s rededication to helping the world’s poor and commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, Akinola said, "We are, however, saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions."
According to Akinola, the Episcopal Church was "advised … against taking and continuing these commitments and actions" prior to their General Convention in 2003, when Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was consecrated as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop.
After Robinson’s consecration, many overseas Anglican leaders broke ties with the U.S. Anglican arm as a majority believes gay relationships violate Scripture. Also, within the Episcopal Church, conservative members have banded together to form the Pittsburgh-based Anglican Communion Network, which represents 10 Episcopal dioceses and more than 900 parishes that opposed Robinson's election. The network remains part of the Episcopal Church for now, but could ultimately attempt to replace the denomination as the American member of the communion. It has a meeting set for the end of July to discuss its plans.
In his letter, Akinola said the African primates "assure all those Scripturally faithful dioceses and congregations alienated and marginalized within [the ECUSA’s] Provincial structure that we have heard their cries."
He said that they have committed themselves to "study very carefully" all of the ECUSA’s various actions and statements, and when they meet with other Primates from the Global South in September, they will present their "concerted pastoral and structural response."