Nigeria pleads for ‘special status’ for conservative Anglican Christians over homosexuality
￼The Anglican Church of Nigeria has pleaded for “special status” in the worldwide church to allow it to maintain its stance on homosexuality.
Nigeria has also announced it is to boycott the next meeting of Anglican Church leaders, further deepening the split over homosexuality.
The Nigerian primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said the province, the largest in the worldwide Anglican Communion, will boycott next month’s Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.
The Nigerians are angry that delegates from The Episcopal Church plan to attend the meeting and vote, in spite of having “consequences” imposed by the recent Primates Meeting over their approval of gay marriage and consecration of gay bishops.
In his strongly-worded statement, Archbishop Okoh pleads for a “special status” within the Anglican Communion for provinces that continue to uphold the traditional biblical standard on marriage and homosexuality.
He compares it to Prime Minister David Cameron’s request for “special status” in the European Union for the United Kingdom.
And he accuses liberal provinces of using “subtle blackmail” to “coerce” conservative provinces such as his into joining the “straitjacket of the revisionists”. He says: “Somehow, they are succeeding!”
Nigeria was one of the provinces that protested against the consecration of the gay American bishop Gene Robinson, that boycotted the 2008 Lambeth Conference and helped set up the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem that same year.
Nigeria has also broken communion with Canada and the United States over the issue, but attended the January Primates meeting in Canterbury in the hope of seeing discipline imposed on liberal provinces.
However, although some voting rights were withdrawn from the US church, Archbishop Okoh says the restrictions had turned out to be “hollow”.
He says in the statement: “During the Canterbury meeting itself, the way and manner in which those who hold the orthodox view of human sexuality and marriage were spoken of by the authorities, and denounced as ‘homophobic’, left noone in doubt that we were in the wrong place. In fact, the authorities believe that patience was being exercised to enable the communion to bring up the scripture-believers gradually to embrace the homosexual doctrine.”
He said the future for the orthodox was as a result uncertain.
“In summary, as long as we are now candidates for whom every opportunity in the Anglican Communion should be explored to gradually teach us to embrace the new sex culture, it will be unwise to deliberately walk into a well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship.”
In her write-up of the after effects of the recent Primates’ special Meeting in Canterbury, U.K., Religious Correspondent , Ruth Gledhill, draws attention to the reality that the Archbishop of Nigeria, claiming to head ‘the largest Province within the Anglican Communion’, pleads for a ‘special place’ within the Communion for provinces that believe homosexuality to be an aberration and antithetical to the bibilical ethos.
In asking for this ‘special place for himself; it is interesting that – on this very issue of homosexuality – the Primate of Nigeria has already declared and made public witness to his unwillingness to live with a ‘special place’ being given to pro-gay provinces within the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Having suddenly realised – from the statement made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, ++Justin Welby, that homophobic treatment handed out by any province of the Communion was just as much a problem for the Communion as the so-called ‘preemptive’ decision made by certain provinces to bless same-sex unions and provide a marriage rite for monogamously related same sex couples – it has become obvious that the Nigerian Archbishop, ++Nicholas Okoh, now finds himself equally culpable of activity not acceptable by Communion Churches.
Ms Gledhill’s report speaks of his immediate dilemma:
‘In his strongly worded statement, Archbishop Okoh pleads for a “special status” within the Anglican Communion for provinces that continue to uphold the traditional biblical standard on marriage and homosexuality.’
Having turned down the prospect of a continuing relationship with other provinces in the Anglican Communion; why should Archbishop Okoh expect that his quest for a ‘special status’ for his own province within the Communion would be acceptable?
Maybe the next Meeting of ACC (16) – which 3 of the GAFCON Provinces have declared they will not be attending – will help unravel the unenviable situation in which the Provinces of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda now find themselves. Having refused to allow for ‘special status’ within the Communion for TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, because of their pro-gay polity; how on earth can the Primates of those (GAFCON) provinces expect the Anglican Communion to go along with their own request for ‘special status’ because of their anti-gay polity?
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand