Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
The statement follows the Archbishop of Canterbury’s condemnation on Friday of the killing of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. It was approved by most Anglican primates within the communion and calls on all clergy “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and condemn irrational fear of gay people”.
“We join him in saying that no one should have to live in fear because of the bigotry of others.”
The issues of blessings for same-sex partnerships and the ordination of openly gay clergy have caused deep, almost irreparable divisions in the Anglican Communion.
Several archbishops boycotted the bi-annual Anglican meeting that concluded in Dublin yesterday and which issued the anti-homophobia statement, along with texts addressing a range of international issues such as Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and climate change.
The archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi, who has repeatedly said that homosexuality is incompatible with scripture, has still to comment on Kato’s death.
He and half a dozen other senior clerics stayed away because of developments in the US Episcopal Church, which has ordained partnered gay clergy and is developing liturgical resources for same-sex blessings.
Its leader, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, used her Sunday sermon to say Kato’s voice had been “silenced”.
“We can pray that others will continue that work, or be challenged by the brutality of his death into some conversion of heart.”
At a press conference, held at the Emmaus Centre, Dublin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, reminded journalists that Orombi had signed an earlier pledge “deploring and condemning all violence and language about homosexual persons” while also warning that homophobic language had consequences – as illustrated by Kato’s murder.
Williams acknowledged there was “a critical situation” in the communion.
“The division is very real. The question is how we cope with it. Whether we are able to stay in the same room and argue the case.”
This testimony of the joint Primates communique, voiced by Archbishop Rowan Williams at the end of the Dublin Primates Conference, says a great deal about those who were not at the Conference to join in the condemnation of homophobia, which is alive and well in parts of the world-wide Anglican Communion.
From the record, it is obvious that the Archbishop of Uganda was duplicitous in his previous statement of consonance with Communion support for the non-condemnation of the LGBT community. He has, as yet, said nothing to put that matter right. Nor have any of the Primates who stayed away from Dublin made any effort to deny their own culpability in this matter of sexual discrimination.
This is a sad blot on the life of the Communion at large – and a matter which, if not addressed properly and without hypocrisy, will do little to enhance the integrity of Christian witness of God’s redeeming love to all peoples of the world.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch