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Woman bishop claims church leaders from ethnic minorities beat their wives

LAMBETH: Woman bishop claims church leaders from ethnic minorities beat their wives

A woman bishop has claimed that church leaders from ethnic minorities beat their wives, sparking outrage among members of the Anglican church at the Lambeth Conference.

By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent
The Telegraph
http://tinyurl.com/5d46eg
July 30, 2008

The Rt Rev Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York, said domestic violence is deemed acceptable in some parts of the world and that "even the most devout Christians" are guilty of it.

She said some of the 670 Anglican bishops gathered in Canterbury for the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference probably beat their wives, and added that it is difficult to discuss it with them because they do not believe it is wrong.

Her comments have been condemned as outrageous and untrue, and a further example of the condescending attitude of western Anglicans to those in developing countries.

In the article in the Lambeth Witness, a newsletter produced daily during the meeting by the gay campaign group Inclusive Church Network, Bishop Roskam said: "We have 700 men here.

"Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives.

"Culturally, many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes the conversation quite difficult."

Her comments came as the bishops and their spouses at Lambeth took part in an entire day of joint discussions about the abuse of power and violence against women on Tuesday.

Anglicans from around the world accused Bishop Roskam of making offensive generalisations without any evidence to back them up, and of adopting a patronising attitude to developing countries.

Archbishop John Chew, the Primate of South-East Asia, said: "I don't think it's fair for her to say that. Bishops respect their wives - how could any bishop condone domestic violence?

"I don't think we see things like that in the church, what she said is far removed from the real picture."

Bishop Paul Yugusuk from Sudan said: "I don't think it's true - the church speaks out against this.

"In the wider community these things still exist but we don't do that as bishops or pastors.

"She is being unfair - she's talking from a general view without any evidence."

Canon Chris Sugden, one of the organisers of the orthodox Global Anglican Future movement that has criticised the "colonial" attitude of some aspects of Anglicanism, added: "A number of us have looked at this and said it is outrageous."

He said her comments add to the fears of many Anglicans in Africa that they are "on trial" and "are not Anglican enough" for the liberal Western churches.

"It's done in such a way as you can't question it - nobody condones violence against women. But it's put in a way as if it's what 'those people' do.

"This is a further emergence of an approach that links Anglicanism with Western civilisation and a civilising mission, which is very unfortunate."

At the last Lambeth Conference, another American bishop sparked controversy when he claimed African Christians had only just developed from believing that rocks and trees have spirits, and did not understand modern science.

END

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