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Gay Clergy Issue Pushes Anglican Church in Africa Away from Western Sponsors - 2004-04-16

The Anglican Church in Africa, which is opposed to the ordination of gay clergy, has decided to reject financial aid from churches that support the ordination of gays. The issue of gay clergy is pushing Anglican churches in Africa towards financial self-sufficiency.

The head of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola, told reporters in Nairobi Anglicans in Africa should not continue to rely on Western churches for funding.

"For so many years, there has been this dependency syndrome, which, whether we like it or not, must now be broken," he said. "God has put in our own continent, in our various dioceses, all it takes to be self-reliant. It's just that, over the years, we've ignored this and we've been looking to outsiders to help us."

Archbishop Akinola appealed to the continent's 40 million Anglicans for financial contributions to the church.

Anglican church leaders across Africa are meeting in Nairobi with their counterparts from Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America to discuss homosexuality and self-reliance.

An official with the All Africa Conference of Churches told VOA as much as 70 percent of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa's members rely on funding from western dioceses.

He said many in the church are beginning to question the ethics of accepting money from those whose policies the church does not accept, and want to free the church from the strings that are often attached to donations.

Archbishop Akinola said the Anglican Church in Africa was willing to suffer in the short term to gain independence. "If we suffer for a while to gain our independence and our freedom, and to build ourselves up, I think it would be a good thing for the church in Africa," he said, "and we will not mortgage our conscience, mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation on the altar of money."

He said the African Anglican Church would accept funding from those who share the same values, but would not actively go out and seek donations.

Last year's consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in the New Hampshire diocese of the United States caused a furor in the Anglican Church worldwide, and especially in Africa, where homosexuality is widely condemned.

Since then, several Anglican Churches in Africa have severed ties with the diocese of New Hampshire over the issue.

Archbishop Akinola said the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa would maintain its links with the worldwide Anglican Church, but said the U.S. church should repent within three months or face disciplinary action. He did not say what that action would be.