- The Anglican Church of Tanzania has issued a statement opposing the consecrating by the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) of the homosexual Canon Gene Robinson earlier this month. Tanzanian Archbishop Donald Leo Mtetemela says his church will "not recognise the Ministry" of Mr Robison as a Bishop because "homosexuality is a sin."
- We declare that this is against the revelation of the Word of God and against the mind of the Anglican Church worldwide, Tanzanian Archbishop Mtetemela says in his statement, distributed worldwide by the Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop explains that his Church "remains obedient to the Word of God, that only a lawful union between a man and a woman constitutes marriage. This is the basis of the human family," he says, adding that "the Anglican Church of Tanzania believes that homosexuality is contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. It is a sin."
Mr Mtetemela finds wide - but not universal - support for his opinion that "homosexuality is a sin" among African religious leaders of all faiths. In Europe and North America, however, many church leaders consider homosexuality as just another way God has created human beings. The general message of Love is seen to override several conservative passages in the Bible, which also confine women to silence and subservience.
The Anglican Church of Tanzania however participated in an uprising of the conservative majority of southern churches against the naming of gay clergy earlier this year, which was led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. As the African church provinces constitute more than half of the world's Anglicans, the rebellion was crowned with success at an extraordinary Anglican summit in Lambeth (London) last month.
- Although the Primates of the Anglican Church worldwide who met in London mid October, 2003, asked the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA to advise the Rev Canon Gene Robison not to accept the consecration to the episcopate in the Church, this advice has been ignored, Archbishop Mtetemela complains.
According to the Tanzanian Church leader, "the act of consecrating a homosexual to the episcopate in the Church is contrary to the revelation of the World of God and pastorally very damaging." The US church was legitimising sin "instead of recalling the sinner to repentance," Mr Mtetemela held. This had to be "condemned unreservedly" because the lifestyle of a Bishop "should witness to the ethics of the Gospel."
Because the US church has gone ahead, consecrating Mr Robinson, the Anglican Church of Tanzania had no decided not to recognise Mr Robison to be a bishop of the Church, "nor shall we recognise any homosexual person who may be consecrated in future,"
Mr Mtetemela declared that, henceforth the Church of Tanzania was "not in communion with" bishops who consecrate homosexuals and bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood. Further, the Tanzanian Church was breaking its communion with "bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions;" gay priests and deacons; and priests who bless same sex unions.
A similar step has already been done by the Anglican Church leaders in Nigeria and Rwanda, the leaders of the conservative camp. Earlier this month, the Anglican Church of Kenya stated it would "not recognise the ministry of" Mr Robinson. It however remained unclear whether the Kenyan Church remained in communion with the US Church.
US Bishop Robinson however also found support on the African continent this week. Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Southern Africa held that Mr Robinson "is lawfully a bishop in the church of God" as he had been elected "in accordance with the constitution" of ECUSA. "The Anglican Communion has no system of centralised government," Mr Ndungane emphasised. The Church of Southern Africa would therefore not consider any sanctions against ECUSA.
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