LAGOS: African hardliners set deadline in gay bishop row
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
Conservative Anglican Archbishops in Africa have set a February deadline for the liberal American Church to "repent" for consecrating a homosexual bishop.
In a statement issued yesterday, the leaders of most of the continent's 20 provinces challenged liberal bishops to comply with the Windsor report, published 10 days ago to heal rifts over homosexuality.
The African Archbishops did not announce plans to develop a rival Anglican Church, but the threat remained implicit in their statement, which showed that they did not intend to apologise to liberal bishops for illicitly "adopting" conservative parishes in America.
They said that the onus was on the liberals to "move beyond informal expressions of regret for the effect of their actions to a genuine change of heart and mind".
Their statement, issued after a meeting in Lagos, also said that the liberals must halt the blessing of same-sex "marriages" and rule out future consecrations of homosexuals.
Failure to do so, they warned, would indicate that the liberals "have chosen to 'walk alone' and follow another religion".
They rejected calls in the Windsor report to apologise for crossing diocesan boundaries to help conservative parishes.
They said that they rejected the "moral equivalence" drawn by the report between the liberals who had "initiated the crisis" and their efforts to respond to "cries for help from beleaguered friends".
The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said at a press conference that the liberals had until the next primates' meeting in February to apologise, although the statement mentioned no deadline.
Anglican officials privately acknowledge that the February gathering will represent the real showdown between the factions, which remain deadlocked.
Bishops in the American Episcopal Church who consecrated Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire have been reluctant to follow the report's suggestion that they should voice regret for breaching the Communion's "bonds of affection", which would be an admission that their unilateral action was wrong.
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