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SOUTH AFRICA: No same-sex blessings for Mthatha Diocese

SOUTH AFRICA: No same-sex blessings for Mthatha Diocese

By Ed Beavan
August 30, 2007

THE ANGLICAN Church in South Africa will not permit blessings of same-sex unions or gay marriage, the Bishop of Mthatha told his diocesan synod on Aug 25, as it is contrary to Scripture and God's plan for humanity.

The Rt Rev Sitembele Mzamane told the 48th meeting of the diocesan synod that he forbade clergy in the Diocese of Mthatha (formerly the Diocese of St John the Evangelist) from solemnising gay marriages under South Africa's new civil marriage code.

"We still embrace the Biblical truth that homosexual behaviour is a sin, not an orientation as others would like us to believe," he said.

"Same-sex union is something that has been accepted by the government. But that does not mean that everything the government accepts or condones as right, the church will simply say 'Yes' and toe the line as well. No, it's not like that, we base everything on the Bible," Bishop Mzamane said according to accounts printed in an Eastern Cape newspaper, the Daily Dispatch.

The Bishop of South Africa's Transkei region said he supported the Windsor Report's ban on gay bishops and blessings. "We need to set an example for our people that our people should know that this kind of behaviour is generally not acceptable," he said.

Next year's Lambeth Conference, he predicted, would be dominated by the Gene Robinson affair which has "nearly divided the church. Please pray fervently for the Anglican Communion that we may be one and remain united," he asked the diocese.

The South African Church was discouraging its clergy from registering as civil marriage officers out of concern this would open the door to clergy performing same-sex unions.

"This is a moral issue which calls upon people of integrity and worth to stand by the book of moral code. If God never ordained these civil unions, why bother. We, therefore, call upon our clergy to stand united with us and never be lured or enticed into thinking that this kind of behaviour is acceptable."

The Southern African Church has not yet issued a formal statement on gay marriage. On Nov 30, 2006, the South African government enacted a Civil Unions Bill making it the fifth country, and the first in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage. However in May the South African House of Bishops crafted a resolution in response to Civil Union Act. The Dean of the Province, the Rt Rev David Beetge, Bishop of the Highveld told The Church of England Newspaper that the details of the bishops' position had not yet been made public.

A "resolution was passed in principle but was to be sent to the Bishops for further consideration before being finalised," he said, and would be released once complete.


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