Perhaps unwittingly, Tanzania declares itself out of communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury

According to Episcopal News Service, bishops of the Province of Tanzania, has passed an unusual statement, in which it declares itself out of Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and numerous other bishops around the world. The statement comes just two months before Tanzania is to host a key meeting of Anglican Primates–a meeting at which the Archbishop of Canterbury is to preside.

Much of the statement is aimed at the Episcopal Church, but in the section currently under discussion on several blogs the Church states

1. Mindful of the fact that the Anglican Church of Tanzania issued statements in 2003 following the election, confirmation and eventual consecration to the Episcopate of Gene Robinson a practicing homosexual clergyman, whereby we declared that henceforth we are not in communion, namely, communio in sacris, with:

i. Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;

ii. Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;

iii. Gay priests and deacons;

iv. Priests who bless same sex unions.

Points i encompass most bishops in the Episcopal Church and the Church of England, and probably numerous other provinces of the communion as well. I am not sure this is what the Tanzanians meant to do, but when you start drawing these sorts of lines, sometimes you put the wrong people on the outside.

Two things are worthy of note:

1. Before the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003, when it was clear that the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, and many other provinces of the Communion were ordaining gay men and women to the priesthood, Tanzania, like most other African provinces, did not protest. Now, however, these previously un-protested ordinations are Communion-breaking issues.

2. The Tanzanians aren’t just out of communion with non-celibate gay priests and deacons, but with even celibate gay priests and deacons.

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