The Anglican Communion is increasingly defined not as those who are in communion with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, but those who are cowed by Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria. Even Time Magazine, is under Akinola’s sway. They’ve recently named him one of hte world’s 100 most influential people. I don’t quarrel with the choice, I quarrel with the accompanying article, which fails to mention that Akinola is currently supporting legislation in Nigeria that curtails basic civil rights of gays and lesbians. The law has been criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. Even the raving leftwingers of the U. S. State Department have expressed concern. But thus far, from within the Anglican Communion, we’ve heard almost nothing, beyond Bishop Chane’s Feb. 26, op-ed piece in The Washington Post.
Now, finally, some Anglican bishops have spoken up. The Anglican Communion News Service has the story.
“Niagara Falls, Ont., May 4, 2006 – Canada’s Anglican bishops unanimously endorsed a motion expressing “grave concern” about proposed legislation in Nigeria that “would prohibit or severely restrict the freedom of speech, association, expression and assembly of gay and lesbian persons.” Their motion also called criticized the (Anglican) Church of Nigeria for its support of the legislation.
The legislation is inconsistent with the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the bishops said in their motion, which was passed at their spring meeting held April 22-27. They said they were “especially grieved” by the support for the legislation given by the Church of Nigeria, noting that the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops called upon churches to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons.”
The proposed laws, said the bishops, “criminalize civil and religious same-sex marriage as well as the public and private expression of same-sex affection, all public affiliation between gay persons and even publicity, public support and media reporting of the same.” The proposals “would make the very act of listening to homosexual persons impossible.”
In unusually strong language, the bishops said they “disassociate” themselves from the actions of the Church of Nigeria and called upon Anglicans around the world to listen to and respect the human rights of gay people.”