Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tanzania Uninvites Anglican Primates

From ENS:

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) issued a statement December 7...

..."Mindful of the fact that the Anglican Church of Tanzania issued statements in 2003 following the election, confirmation and eventual consecration to the Episcopate of Gene Robinson a practicing homosexual clergyman, whereby we declared that henceforth we are not in communion, namely, communio in sacris, with:

Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;

Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;

Gay priests and deacons;

Priests who bless same sex unions"...
Since there have always been gay priests, deacons, and bishops in the Church, and since not only are those of this particular orientation excluded, but also the bishop who ordained them, I think it is safe to say that Tanzania has effectively eliminated every bishop that I have ever known, and I would imagine most bishops within the Anglican Communion. They have certainly excluded the Archbishop of Canterbury.

When Jeffrey John, a celibate gay priest, withdrew from his appointment as Bishop of Reading, many of us wondered if this would be the beginning of the Church's sanctioning of prejudice based on orientation alone. The Vatican's scapegoating of all gays last year was another sign this was the direction things were headed. And now we have an Anglican Province declaring who it is in communion with based on one criterion; sexual orientation.

A section of Dr. Williams' statement at the time of Jeffrey John's withdrawal is worth noting:

...Let me add that some of the opposition expressed to Canon John's appointment has been very unsavoury indeed. A number of the letters I received displayed a shocking level of ignorance and hatred towards homosexual people. Our official policies and resolutions as Anglicans commit us to listening to the experience of homosexuals and recognising that they are full and welcome members of the Church, loved by God. Not everyone, it seems, takes equally seriously this element in the teaching of the Anglican Church; and some letters that came from non-believers suggest that the level of foolish and hurtful prejudice in our society is still uncomfortably high. Christians who collude with this are simply not living out their calling...
The Anglican Church of Tanzania, who are intentionally colluding with those who spread such foolish and hurtful prejudice, are not living out their calling.

The Primates' Meeting, scheduled for February, was to take place in the Province of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. It is safe to assume that most of these Primates have participated in the ordination of a gay priest or deacon, or the consecration of a gay bishop, or have licensed gay clergy at one time or another. Consequently, it appears that they are no longer welcome in Tanzania. It may be prudent for the Primates to begin to seek an alternative meeting place.

Jim Naughton and Mark Harris have more on this story.


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