Bishops scorn US 'satanic attack' on church

By Dulue Mbachu

Nairobi - The Anglican Church in Nigeria on Tuesday rejected a proposal to accommodate divisions over homosexuality, calling instead for liberal churches in North America to be removed from the religious world body.

Last week in a message to Anglican Church leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, called for a dual structure of "Constituent Churches" and "Churches in Association" as a means of preserving church unity threatened by divergent opinions between conservatives who oppose homosexuals in the church and liberals who support them.

"One would have expected that those who had embarked on this religious misadventure would be encouraged to judge their actions against our well-established historic tradition," the Church of Nigeria said in a statement on its website.

"A cancerous lump in the body should be excised if it has defied every known cure," the statement added.

"To attempt to condition the whole body to accommodate it will lead to the avoidable death of the patient."

The Anglican Church in Nigeria, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola, is in the forefront of conservative churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America opposed to the ordination of gay priests and the blessing of same-sex unions.

With more than 17 million members forming the second biggest membership outside the parent Church of England, it is a major conservative force in the global Anglican Church.

The Nigerian church broke ranks with the US Episcopal Church in 2003 over its ordination of an openly gay priest as bishop.

Last year, the Nigerian church effected constitutional changes deleting all references to the mother church in England as the rift over homosexuals deepened.

It said the changes will allow it to set up missions outside Nigeria and cater for churchgoers unhappy with recent theological innovations encouraging practices which the Nigerians recognise as sin.

Akinola has condemned the blessing of same-sex unions and gay bishops as a "Satanic attack" on the church. - Sapa-AP

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