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General News of Sunday, 7 September 2003

Source: GNA

Anglican Church kicks against Gay priests

Accra, Sept. 7, GNA - The Right Reverend Robert G A Okine, Archbishop and Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa of the Anglican Church, has said that the action of the Episcopal Anglican Church of USA in endorsing the election of a gay priest as Bishop contravenes traditional Anglican norms and practice, which are based on Scripture, tradition and reason.

In a pastoral letter, dated September 5 2003, addressed to the Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, Archbishop Okine noted that, "It is not the practice of the Anglican Church to allow the appointment and ordination of homosexuals/lesbians as clergymen or women".

The action taken by the Church in the USA is out of step with the teachings and practice of the worldwide Anglican Communion and does not promote Faith and Order in the Church."

The letter registered its sadness on the approval of homosexuals to the high offices since "the action seems to have lowered the Gospel to the level of Society instead of raising Society to the level of the Gospel." The Church of the Province of West Africa therefore said it does not subscribe to the appointment and deems it most reprehensible.

The pastoral letter attributed the action to the placement of undue emphasis on the civic rights of the individual, which it said it appreciates.

However, decisions, which do not respect collegiality or treat with "contempt the mind of the Church of God, can best be described as insensitive, if not heartless.

The recognition of the individual's rights the letter, said is " unfortunately, that is the price the Anglican Church has to pay for being democratic to fault".

Archbishop Okine urged all faithful of the Church of the Province of West Africa, to remain steadfast in the face of "ecclesiastical inconsistencies and provocation" and pray for God's intervention peace and sanity to prevail.

The letter was in reaction to the appointment in June this year of Canon (Dr) Jeffery John, a noted gay activist who is reported to have been living in a same-sex relationship for over 20 years as the Suffragan Bishop of Reading in the Diocese of Oxford, United Kingdom. It was also in reaction to the authorisation in July of a "rite of blessing of same-sex unions" by the synod of the Diocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada and the confirmation in August of the election Rev Canon Gene Robinson described as a "man partnered to another man" as Bishop Coadjutor in the Diocese of New Hampshire, USA. The letter reaffirmed the Resolution on Hum Sexuality of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops held in Canterbury in 1998 rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with the Scripture.

It called on members of the Church in West Africa to remain steadfast in the face of "ecclesiastical inconsistencies and provocation" and to pray for unity, peace and sanity in the Church.