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NAIROBI: New archbishop of Kenya calls for Anglican Communion unity

NAIROBI: New archbishop of Kenya calls for Anglican Communion unity

Ecumenical News International
July 6, 2009

Newly-installed Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala has called for unity among the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion, which is threatened by a split centred, as far as many African bishops are concerned, on the issue of homosexuality.

"We are in a state of brokenness because the truth of the Scripture has not been upheld in some provinces," said Archbishop Wabukala in July 5 homily after his enthronement as the fifth archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya. "We call on all Anglicans to come together again around the Gospel."

Some Anglican sources have said that Archbishop Wabukala is expected to maintain his predecessor's opposition to homosexuality, and that any unity not based on the Bible risks becoming only window dressing.

"When we sit together to talk, we can always find common ground. God does not ask us to lay aside principles but he does ask us to sacrifice some privilege and discretion for the sake of building unity," Archbishop Wabukala said. He was speaking on the day before dissident Anglicans were to meet in London to support many of the views on contentious issues that African church leaders advocate.

The 51-year-old Archbishop Wabukala was elected on April 24 to succeed Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, who retired on June 30. Archbishop Wabukala now leads the church in Kenya, which has for some time been at loggerheads with the Anglican Communion over the issue of same-sex relationships, and especially the handling of such matters by the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

The new Anglican leader urged Kenyans to embrace compassion, humility and service, and called for healing and reconciliation.

"There are people sick in their beds because they cannot afford treatment," said Archbishop Wabukala. "We have underage children offering their labour or idling because they cannot afford school. There are thousands of displaced persons wasting away in makeshift camps without adequate food, water and sanitation. ... They need compassion."

Nigerian primate Archbishop Peter Akinola delivered the sermon at Archbishop Wabukula's enthronement, and warned the new archbishop that he was taking over office when the church had failed God. "Church solutions to world problems are not popular, and because they are not popular the church over time began to abdicate its responsibility. Little by little, the church has begun to agree with rest of the world," said Archbishop Akinola.

At the enthronement, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki urged the church to support government development efforts.

"Instead of complaining about the various ills in the country, we need to work together in seeking solutions," said President Kibaki, whom Kenyan church leaders have often criticized for issues related to government corruption.

END

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