Nigerian Anglican head warns Church of England over gay clergy

(Photo Credit: Church of Nigeria.)Bishops of the Church of Nigeria are seen at a 2009 retreat at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State in Nigeria.

The Church of Nigeria will "further separate" itself from the Church of England if "it continues in this contrary direction" following a decision to allow clergy in UK civil partnerships to become bishops.

The Archbishop of All-Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, released a statement at the end of an annual bishops' retreat, saying the church's decision "is one step removed from the moral precipice that we have already witnessed in the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada."

He referenced those churches' actions – which now permit gay clergy to serve as bishops - in declaring what the Church of Nigeria's next steps could be in relation to the Church of England, the "mother church" of the Anglican Communion.

He said he urged the C of E's House of Bishops to "reconsider their decision."

"Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago," he said in a statement.

Critical comments also emerged earlier this week from the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala, saying "it cannot be right" to let bishops enter into legally recognized relationships which "institutionalize and condone behavior that is completely contrary" to scripture affirmed by Anglican resolutions.

Archbishop Wabukala characterized the UK's Civil Partnership legislation as mimicry of marriage, "clearly designed on the assumption that such couples are sexually active."

Speaking for the House of Bishops, The Rt. Rev. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said last week that the House believed it would be "unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live in full conformity with the Church's teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News