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NIGERIA: Primate Shuns London Talks Over Robinson Consecration

LAGOS: Nigeria's Primate shuns London talks over Robinson consecration

Tuesday, March 02, 04

LAGOS- THE head of the world's largest Anglican Communion, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, has turned down an invitation to a meeting of church leaders in protest at the presence of US clerics who supported the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop, his office said yesterday.

As primate of Nigeria's 17 million Anglicans, Akinola led opposition from the churches - especially those in the developing world - which condemned last year's decision by the US Episcopal Church (ECUSA) to name Canon Gene Robinson, an avowed homosexual, as Bishop of New Hampshire.

In a letter to Canon John Peterson, General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Office, Bishop Oluranti Odubogun, General Secretary of the Church of Nigeria, said Akinola would not attend this week's meeting of the Anglican Consultative Committee in London, which began yesterday.

"Archbishop Akinola is baffled that ACO continues to act as if what ECUSA did does not really matter," said the letter.

The letter said Akinola felt he "could not sit down with ECUSA at any meeting of the Global Communion," saying it would "undermine the position" of the developing world church leaders who opposed the Robinson's confirmation and have since dropped links with their US colleagues.

In September last year, African church leaders warned that if the US bishops did not rescind their decision to recognise Robinson's ministry then "the y would have removed themselves from the fellowship of the Communion," the letter recalled.

"I believe that you can understand Archbishop Akinola's position better from the foregoing. It is a situation that is most painful to him," it concluded.

The Anglican Consultative Committee oversees the running of world Anglicanism's central secretariat, and is meeting all week in London. It comprises a large number of the church's leading bishops, including Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the church, and Frank Griswold, the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church.

Disagreements over the issue of homosexuality, most notably over Robinson' s nomination, have threatened to permanently tear apart the church - a loose congregation of autonomous national and regional provinces around the world .

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