US Bishops hits out at 'demonic' African church leaders
July 17th, 2008
An influential US bishop has attacked African leaders for treating him and his church as a "punchbag".
The Right Rev John Chane, the Bishop of Washington, said neither he nor the Episcopal church deserved the treatment, accusing the leaders of "demonic and dangerous" behaviour.
Christian clerics from Africa have criticised US liberals for encouraging progressive practices including the ordination of gay priests and the blessings of same-sex unions, calling them apostates and blaming them for causing a schism in the Anglican Communion.
The schism has led to many African clergy snubbing Lambeth, the once a decade gathering of Anglican's bishops.
It began in Canterbury with the arrival of 650 bishops and their spouses yesterday.
In Jerusalem last month, conservatives launched the Global Anglican Future Conference, a splinter movement for traditionalists.
Angered by their criticism, Chane denied that the Episcopal church was guilty of leading the Anglican communion into error.
"I think it's really very dangerous when someone stands up and says: 'I have the way and I have the truth and I know how to interpret holy scripture and you are following what is the right way,'" he said "It's really very, very dangerous and I think it's demonic.
"The Episcopal church has been demonised. It has been a punching bag, and I'm sick of being a punching bag as a bishop and I'm sick of my church, my province being a punching bag."
He made the remarks in Battle of the Bishops, a BBC2 documentary to be aired on Monday evening, which follows key churchmen from the US and Africa as they prepare for Gafcon.
In the programme the archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, known in his home country as the Hammer of God, is seen hitting out at figures such as Chane.
"Gafcon is a rescue mission - it is our duty to rescue whatever is left of the church from error," Akinola said.
"From all those, whoever they are, who have chosen to mutilate, to distort and to even deny the gospel and to preach something different from what we know."
Another Nigerian, Benjamin Kwashe, the archbishop of Jos who is tipped to take over from Akinola when he steps down in 2010, said:. "Respect is earned. When it is thrown away, gathering it can be difficult.
"From the mother Church of England, there is the assumption that therefore we can do anything and Africans will automatically come with us, or respect us.
"I think that is an insult. The wider Anglican world, if you ask my opinion, doesn't want to listen to us."
Despite African church leaders pledging to boycott Lambeth, figures released by organisers show that some are overruling their superiors by attending the summit.
More than 75% of Anglican bishops worldwide have registered for the conference, representing 36 of the 38 provinces of the communion.
One bishop from Kenya - whose primate, Benjamin Nzimbi, is a Gafcon leader - has been photographed enjoying the hospitality of the bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch.
Alice Nzimbi, the archbishop's wife, has been involved with planning the spouses' conference, a parallel event for wives and husbands in Canterbury.
Only one Nigerian bishop, the Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, has so far flouted the boycott, although a Lambeth official said more may arrive under cover.
"Even though African archbishops have issued this blanket ban, there is nothing to stop individuals from coming here," the official said.
"There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding this boycott and how effective it is."
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