“There is Already A Break”: Ugandan Archbishop Declares De-Facto Schism
August 24th, 2010
About 400 African bishops of the Anglican Union have gathered in Entebbe, Uganda for a six-day All Africa Bishops Conference organized by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). The head of the worldwide African Union, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams arrived in Entebbe on Monday to speak at the conference, which began this morning. His job is to try to hold the Anglican Communion together over deep rifts over homosexuality and the ordination of women. In Williams’ opening remarks, he didn’t address homosexuality specifically, but said this in his typically indirect, round-about way:
“We must learn to listen to those we lead and serve to find out what their hopes and needs and confusions are. We must love them and attend to their humanity in all its diversity,” Williams said.
But African clergy weren’t waiting to hear Williams’ watered-down messages, and they were far more direct in speaking with reporters. Before the conference began, the conference’s host and Ugandan Archbishop Uganda Henry Luke Orombi had already fired the opening salvo:
“Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God,” Orombi said. “It is good (that) Archbishop Rowan is here. We are going to express to him where we stand. We are going to explain where our pains are.”
Orombi also said that disputes over homosexuality had already divided the global Anglican community.
“There is already a break. It doesn’t need to be announced. It is in the way people act,” he said.
The virulently anti-gay web site Virtue Online confirmed Orombi’s statement to reporters. David Virtue, who runs the web site and is attending the conference, also described Orombi’s comments in Williams’ presence at the conference itself:
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi told 400 African Anglicans bishops in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams and Uganda’s Prime Minister that there was a hunger for the Word of God in England where he recently spoke to 17,000 people. “I called back home to send missionaries to America and Europe to take back the gospel from these sending nations. It is an ailing church in need of guidance.”
Addressing delegates to the All Africa Bishops conference sponsored by CAPA – the Council of Anglican provinces of Africa, Orombi said, “We must be free to go to Europe and to the Mother Church [CofE] desperate for the gospel.”
Orombi, along with Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola, have been particularly active schismatic activities for several years. Virtue’s web site has published invitations from Orombi’s diocese to American parishes inviting them to break from their own bishops to seek “spiritual guidance” from Orombi.
Virtue also relays comments made by Orombi and Uganda’s Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi at a later press conference. According to Virtue, Orombi again reiterated that a schism has already occurred:
Asked about whether schism was now a reality in the Anglican Communion, Orombi said there was already schism in the face of doctrinal teaching. “The break took place a long time ago. We said in 2005 in Northern Ireland that if the gay movement does not check itself it is walking away from the Anglican Communion. The same was said in Dar es Salaam. Now in Uganda we are talking about a communion that is already broken. It is not the way people act. We have put out a moratorium. One part [of the Communion] breaks it so they have walked away. We as Africans are holding to the core of the faith of the communion.
In remarks to reporters according to Virtue, Prime Minister Nsibambi listed homosexuality alongside terrorism and corruption as among the problems Uganda was facing. (Uganda was hit by suicide bombers from Somalia in July.) According to Virtue, Nsibambi said:
“We believe that God the almighty is able to grapple with these problems. We need exemplary leaders, not sycophants. The East African Revival is the driving force of the Church of the Uganda. Africa has been exemplary in not accepting homosexuality. As we challenge the problems we must not point fingers at others but repent of our own sins.”