Archbishop criticises anti-gay clergy

Cape Town, South Africa - A senior African Archbishop has made an astonishing attack on Anglican bishops in the" Global South" grouping, saying that they are in danger of placing themselves outside "authentic Anglicanism" because of their actions on homosexuality.

After they took the first steps towards creating a new Church structure for anti-gay Anglicans in the US, the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev Njongonkulu Ndungane, called on his fellow bishops in the conservative churches of Africa and Asia to "step back from the brink".

The Archbishop said that he was deeply disturbed by what appeared to be a hidden agenda to which "some of us are not privy". He was unable to understand why there seemed to be a deliberate intention to undermine the integrity of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the "due processes" of the Anglican Communion.

He added that Dr Rowan Williams had been "assiduous" in acceding to the demands of the "Global South" over the issue of homosexuality in the Church. He said: "I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States. This flies in the face of the experience of those of us who are steeped in black and post-colonial theology, the theology of liberation and black consciousness."

He issued his statement yesterday in response to a communiqué issued by the Global South primates after their meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, last week. Although the Archbishop was present at the meeting, he said that he had not been made aware of the communiqué, issued on behalf of all the primates. He described the document as misleading.

However, the majority of archbishops and bishops from Africa are keeping to the conservative anti-homosexuality line and threatening to boycott a meeting next year of all Anglican prelates worldwide because of the issue.

The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa insists that it will not attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the gathering of all the Church’s 900 most senior clerics and their spouses, if Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, who is openly gay, or any of those who took part in his consecration are present.

Dr Williams is expected to issue invitations next year to the meeting. Insiders have indicated to The Times that every bishop will be invited as the Communion prepares to attempt to resolve a crisis that has brought it to the brink of schism.

But the African provinces, in a paper entitled The Road to Lambeth, are demanding that the crisis is resolved before the Lambeth Conference.

They refer in the paper to Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 conference. It set a traditional biblical line as the Anglican standard on sexuality, to the dismay of liberal Anglicans from the US, who proceeded to ignore it, precipitating the crisis.

The Africans accuse wealthy Western churches of "buying silence" from some poorer provinces by offering to pay their expenses for the Lambeth Conference.

They said: "There is no point, in our view, in meeting and meeting and not resolving the fundamental crisis of Anglican identity. We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers."