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UGANDA: Archibishop Orombi Says Anglican Communion Could Stay Together


By David W. Virtue

PAOLI, PA. (12/3/2004)--The Primate of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi believes the Anglican Communion will stay loosely connected externally from now until February 2005 even though internally it will be deeply fractured, perhaps irreversibly.

In an interview with VirtueOnline, the Western-educated, highly articulate archbishop, said that when the Primates meet in February, a clear understanding of the faith will be defined around which they will either agree or disagree, but he does not see a formal schism occurring, though he would not entirely rule it out.

He said the African Primates will meet in Nairobi next month to weigh their options, but he would not predict the outcome or how far they would push the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury when they meet altogether in February in Ireland.

"I believe when we meet we will define our faith in clear terms and around that definition we will either agree or disagree. If it is faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ and the expression of that faith is around repentance and faith we will welcome it. We will have a reasoned debate about where our faith stands and then we will decide how to proceed."

Orombi said that we must ask the only question, 'how does this please God, and how do we interpret what we do with our bodies in the light of that definition.'

Asked whether he thought that the Primates could split the communion in February if clear definitions are not recognized or abided by, the Evangelical Ugandan Primate said that Anglicans worldwide have a loose connection through Canterbury that would probably remain, though a deeper connection in partnership with the gospel and walking together would not be the case. "The Lambeth Conference meets once every ten years…Anglicans have a common connection, and we must ask do we need each other, and I think the answer is yes, because we share that common name."

Questioned on how this would play out, Orombi said we needed each other even though we may function differently. "We can function on our own in our different ministries. We will maintain a common connection through our name, but not much else."

Questioned on whether the Primates would all take Holy Communion with Frank Griswold even though some primates are already in broken communion with him, Orombi said that was something Anglicans "found easy," but it would not be done all the time, he said.

"We have a responsibility to God and to each other, we must honestly speak the truth in love, we need to speak to Rowan Williams and Frank Griswold in love, we have to be responsible to communicate both the truth and to do it in love."

Asked whether the majority of Primates would still stay in communion with Griswold if he did not repent, the Ugandan archbishop said Griswold's action had cut himself off from the majority of the Global South Primates. "Sin is going to cut relationships off. He (Griswold) has cut the ties, we have not. His actions have forced the issue."

Orombi said it was too early to say how it would ultimately play out, but we should not be surprised. "There is always an element of surprise in these situations. We must be wise.

"The Anglican Communion is going to have global impact if it is preaching Jesus Christ. The communion is not a debating society or a comfortable lounge. 1988 was the beginning of the Decade of Evangelism. By 1998 it should have ended in great growth. It did not happen in the West; they lost it all in the sexuality debate."

Orombi said revival had broken out in Uganda, but it was not connected with the old East African revival. "God is doing a new thing. We are building new churches and extending
old ones. We have had to put a tent up next to the cathedral as one example. We are seeing what God is doing. We must not run our affairs in our way."

"It is a charismatic revival not an extension of the old East African revival. Our people are more aware than ever that they are here to serve the Lord. I get up and preach and invite people to come to Christ. They come forward by the hundreds."

Asked why his country was the most successful in Africa in combating AIDS, Orombi said it could be summed up in two words, "moral integrity."

"We proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and preach abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in marriage. If necessary use a condom, but that is not our main message. We do not push condoms as the answer. It is an issue of moral character and abstinence, not just saying using safety devises."

Orombi said the Church was in the forefront of the fight against AIDS and so was the president of the country. "The president objected to the distribution of condoms in schools and we support him. It is not the answer. Let them understand that the virus can go through condoms, it is not guaranteed protection. We preach that sex outside of marriage is fornication and that is a sin. We teach our people to be faithful."

The archbishop blasted the American Episcopal gay organization known as Integrity and said it had no place in Africa. "Integrity has a beach head in Uganda but we have cut off Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo for organizing the group here. He has been banned from preaching and "we will not let him function with us. What he is doing is totally unacceptable. Would you tell a man who has a leg with gangrene that you approve. No you would say it is unacceptable. You would cut it off to spare his life."

Asked why the liberal retired bishop in Uganda was promoting the Integrity organization, Orombi said it was purely for the money. "The good news is that his assistant the Rev. Eric Kasirye has left him and returned to the church. Praise God."

The Archbishop said Islam still remained the single biggest threat to Christianity in Africa and his church was busy evangelizing Muslims.


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