Tuesday, December 26, 2006

NYT on Peter Akinola

From the New York Times; At Axis of Episcopal Split, an Anti-Gay Nigerian. Here's part of it:

The way he tells the story, the first and only time Archbishop Peter J. Akinola knowingly shook a gay person’s hand, he sprang backward the moment he realized what he had done...

...“This man came up to me after a service, in New York I think, and said, ‘Oh, good to see you bishop, this is my partner of many years,’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Oh!’ I jumped back”...
As a side note, it is interesting to compare this version of the story with that of Louie Crew:

...In July 2002, I was a lector at the Enthronment of Peter Akinola (Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Nigeria)at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Mark Sisk (Bishop of New York) invited Ernest and me, among many others, to his home to meet the archbishop at a reception afterward. The archbishop dashed to the other side of the room when I introduced him to Ernest at the punch bowl. Later in the reception Cathy Roskam (Bishop Suffragan of New York) called me over to engage the archbishop in conversation with me. Looking like a deer in headlights, he summoned an aide across the room and abruptly ended the conversation. Ernest had watched the latter scene from the doorway. "What did you say to him that put him into a panic?" he asked. "Nothing. He does not know you and me and he wants to keep it that way. Otherwise, he might have to feed my sheep"...
Continuing on with our consideration of the NYT story:

...Archbishop Akinola, a man whose international reputation has largely been built on his tough stance against homosexuality, has become the spiritual head of 21 conservative churches in the United States. They opted to leave the Episcopal Church over its decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and allow churches to bless same-sex unions. Among the eight Virginia churches to announce they had joined the archbishop’s fold last week are The Falls Church and Truro Church, two large, historic and wealthy parishes.

In a move attacked by some church leaders as a violation of geographical boundaries, Archbishop Akinola has created an offshoot of his Nigerian church in North America for the discontented Americans. In doing so, he has made himself the kingpin of a remarkable alliance between theological conservatives in North America and the developing world that could tip the power to conservatives in the Anglican Communion, a 77-million member confederation of national churches that trace their roots to the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury...

...Asked whether his installing a bishop in the United States violated the church’s longstanding rules, he responded heatedly that he was simply doing what Western churches had done for centuries, sending a bishop to serve Anglicans where there is no church to provide one.

Archbishop Akinola argues that the Convocation, his group in the United States, was established last year to serve Nigerian Anglicans unhappy with the direction of the Episcopal Church, and eventually began to attract non-Nigerians who shared their views. Other church officials and experts say Archbishop Akinola’s intention for the Convocation was to attract Americans and become a rival to the Episcopal Church...
In his "heated" response, the Archbishop claims he was simply "...sending a bishop...where there is no church to provide one." In other words, since the Episcopal Church is no longer a Church in his eyes, he had to send a bishop. At least that response to the question is more honest than the shell game regarding exactly what CANA is that we have heard in the past. A church for Nigerians in America? Did anyone ever believe that was anything more than a subterfuge?

Let's hope more reporters will give the Archbishop opportunities to "respond heatedly" in the future. Honest answers are a refreshing change from what we usually hear from this man.


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