The Anglican Church of Kenya is warning that it will cut its links to any diocese that installs an openly homosexual priest or bishop. The statement urges the diocese of New Hampshire, in the northeastern United States, not to consecrate a homosexual bishop as planned. Several Anglican Churches in Africa have expressed alarm at the plan.
The Anglican Archbishop of Kenya, Benjamin Nzimbi, issued a strong statement condemning the selection of the homosexual bishop. Archbishop Nzimbi said, if the man is installed, or consecrated, it will, in effect, remove the U.S. Episcopal Church from the Anglican community.
The head of the 3.5 million-member Anglican Church of Kenya said that would cause distress across the Anglican family worldwide. Archbishop Nzimbi said the consecration of a homosexual bishop, or even a priest, violates biblical teachings and ignores the conclusions of a worldwide Anglican Bishops conference in 1998.
Earlier this week, the U.S. National Council of Episcopal Bishops confirmed the selection of Canon Gene Robinson as a bishop in New Hampshire. The Reverend Robinson is open about the fact that he is a homosexual.
The decision was controversial in the U.S. church, and caused distress in Anglican communities across Africa. Kenyan Church official Joseph Wangai appealed to the Diocese of New Hampshire not to complete the process of making the Reverend Robinson a bishop.
"Ordination has not been done. If they could re-consider that and not ordain, maybe that would help the Church very much, because the fear is that we may see the Anglican Church actually breaking," he said. "It is not only Kenya, which is opposed to that. We are also talking about some other African countries."
Mr. Wangai emphasized that the issue of the possible break will likely dominate the agenda of a meeting of Kenya's Anglican bishops later this month.
The Anglican primate of Nigeria and the Bishop of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa also issued statements expressing alarm and disappointment at the U.S. church's decision.
The Nairobi-based All Africa Conference of Churches, an ecumenical pan-African organization of Protestant and Orthodox Churches, has called on Anglican Churches in Africa to debate the issue of homosexuality.
The Conference's interim secretary-general Melaku Kifle says debate and reflection should precede any definitive declaration.
"Our hope is that this will not bring division among the fellowship within the Anglican Church," he said. "We hope that this will help all of us to start reflection rather than, at this point, making statements."
The spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has summoned Anglican primates to London for a meeting in October to discuss the decision by the U.S. church, and to seek ways to hold the worldwide church together. Archbishop Williams approved the nomination of a homosexual bishop in Britain earlier this year, but the man withdrew his candidacy in the midst of a huge controversy.