African Anglicans slam US church as gay row deepens

Dakar, Senegal - Africa's Anglican bishops have attacked their U.S. counterparts for failing to condemn homosexuality after they elected a liberal woman leader who supports gay rights.

In an open letter after a meeting in Kampala, they also told conservative Episcopalians that they still supported them in their opposition to the pro-gay stand of the U.S. church, which includes the first gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, said in the letter that Anglican primates from the developing world would meet in September to give a more detailed statement on the U.S. church.

Akinola, one of the Church's most outspoken voices against gay rights, said that the African bishops had carefully followed what was said at a U.S. Anglican convention this week in Ohio.

"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," he said on behalf of African bishops in a statement dated Thursday.

"Our churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scripture and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion," he wrote.

The Anglican Communion, a loose union of national churches representing 77 million around the world, was plunged into crisis after the Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003 and Canadian Anglicans started blessing same-sex marriages.

African bishops, who believe homosexuality is un-biblical, un-African and morally wrong, say the U.S. church is flouting centuries old Anglican teaching and must repent for its actions, raising fears of a schism within the Communion.

In a compromise aimed at appeasing conservatives and averting a full-blown split, U.S. bishops this week agreed in a non-binding resolution to try to avoid consecrating openly gay bishops but stopped short of condemning homosexuality.

But Akinola's letter made it clear the Africans thought this did not go far enough.

"When we meet with other primates from the Global South in September, we shall present our concerted pastoral and structural response," he added, referring to the developing world group of mostly conservative Anglican churches.