Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rebel bishop accuses Dr Rowan Williams over ‘apostasy’

June 23, 2008

The Archbishop of Nigeria accused the Western Church of apostasy last night and attacked the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for leading it into error.

Dr Peter Akinola told more than 1,000 conservative delegates at the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem: “We must rescue what is left of the Church from the error of the apostates.”

His comments added to the problems facing the Anglican Church as a result of innovations such as gay blessings and the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the United States.

Several of the bishops in the audience in Jerusalem last night are drawing up secret plans to form a “Church within a Church” in an attempt to counter Western liberalism and reform the Church from within.

Senior sources said that the most likely outcome of the divisions over homosexuality and Biblical authority was an international “Anglican Fellowship” that would provide a home and structure for orthodox Anglicans.

In an incendiary passage, Dr Akinola compared the Episcopal Church in the US and its liberals to those who enslaved Africans in the 19th century.

He continued: “Having survived the inhuman physical slavery of the 19th century, the political slavery called colonialism of the 20th century, the developing world economic enslavement, we cannot, we dare not, allow ourselves and the millions we represent to be kept in religious and spiritual dungeon.”

And he warned: “We will not abdicate our God-given responsibility and simply acquiesce to destructive modern cultural and political dictates.”

Addressing signs of disunity within the ranks of conservatives themselves, he accused the Archbishop of Canterbury and the US Church of a policy of “divide and rule” and said that they had used “money and other attractions to buy silence and compromise from some gullible African and Global South Church leaders”.

In a section of the prepared speech that was omitted from his delivery, Dr Akinola had also raised the issue of Dr Rowan Williams’s recent controversial speech on Islamic law.

He said: “In the face of global suspicion of the links of Islam with terrorism, Lambeth Palace is making misleading statements about the Islamic law — sharia — to the point that even secular leaders are now calling us to order. We can no longer trust where some of our Communion leaders are taking us.”

The speech was greeted with applause and whistles by the delegates, who included 300 bishops, about 200 of whom are boycotting the official Lambeth Conference organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Kent University next month.

The new fellowship for orthodox Anglicans would have a leadership of six or seven senior conservative bishops and archbishops, such as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Right Rev Bob Duncan, who chairs the US Common Cause partnership that acts as an umbrella for American conservatives, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda, and the Church of England’s Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

The aim is not to split with the worldwide Anglican Communion, which counts 80 million members in 38 provinces, but to reform it from within.

Formal ties will be maintained with the Archbishop of Canterbury but fellowship members will consider themselves out of communion with provinces such as the US and Canada.

Members of the fellowship could attempt to opt out of the pastoral care of their diocesan bishop and seek oversight from a more conservative archbishop, either from their own country or abroad. [the article continues]

Read it all at TimesOnline

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