Anglicans in Africa Weigh Own Theology

African Anglican bishops said Monday that they were considering establishing a theology that conforms to the continent's culture, including prevailing beliefs against same-sex unions.

They did not say whether they would create a new African denomination.

The bishops will weigh proposals to build new theology institutions to train its priests on theology consistent with African culture, Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola said at a conference.

The global Anglican church is deeply divided over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay priests, with Akinola leading a conservative African church that is highly critical of dioceses condoning them.

"The Western world is embroiled in a new religion which we cannot associate ourselves with," said Akinola, who is also the continental chair of the Anglican bishops. "We have to find ways of developing our own theology."

Akinola cited the theology school in Alexandria, Va., where he trained. He said it now accommodates same-sex unions, and African bishops don't want to train their priests there.

"Men and men are cohabiting, which is taboo in African culture," he said.

Africa accounts for about half of the world's 76.5 million Anglicans and Nigeria's 17.5 million Anglican faithful are the biggest congregation outside England, where the church has its origins.

The African churches are the fastest growing in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The conference in Lagos was hosting bishops from Africa's 12 Anglican provinces. The conference involves 300 delegates, including representatives from Asia, Middle East and Latin America.

Most bishops at the conference agreed with Akinola.

"Our effort is to recapture our own needs as Africans, so that the church reflects the presence of the Lord as we understand Him," Bishop Joe Seoka of Pretoria, South Africa, said.