African archbishop to accuse Rowan Williams of ‘betrayal’

Published August 1, 2008

Canterbury, England
The Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, will accuse the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, of "betrayal" in a comment piece to be published in Britain’s The Times newspaper.

According to the blog, or Internet diary, of the newspaper’s religion corespondent, Ruth Gledhill, Orombi will say in an article to be published on 1 August that the office of the archbishop of Canterbury is little better than a remnant of colonialism.

"The spiritual leadership of a global communion of independent and autonomous provinces should not be reduced to one man appointed by a secular government," Orombi will assert.

The African archbishop is referring to the fact that the British monarch appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the worldwide Anglican Communion, on the recommendation of the nation’s prime minister after proposals from the Church of England.

Orombi is one of an estimated 230 or so Anglican bishops who are boycotting the 16 July to 3 August Lambeth Conference, or global gathering, of Anglican bishops as a protest at the presence of leaders of the U.S. Episcopal (Anglican) Church that in 2003 consecrated a non-celibate gay cleric, V. Gene Robinson, as a bishop.

The Ugandan church leader is a member of a "Primate’s Council" of several African and South American Anglican leaders, which set up at a meeting in June 2008 of the Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON as it is known. This was widely seen as being an alternative Lambeth Conference of Anglican leaders who reject homosexual consecrations and same-sex blessings.

GAFCON organizers said their meeting "signalled a move of most of the world’s practising Anglicans into a post-colonial reality," where the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the only arbiter of what it means to be an Anglican.

Meanwhile, Orombi himself has been accused by a prominent gay rights activist in Britain, Peter Tatchell, of promoting "State sanctioned persecution of gay people" in his country.

Orombi was installed as Uganda’s Anglican archbishop in 2004, when the Ugandan church told its U.S. counterpart to stay away from the ceremony because of Robinson’s consecration.

In 2006, Orombi stripped a Ugandan bishop, Christopher Ssenyonjo, of his clerical rights after accusing him of misrepresenting Scripture by going against the denomination’s teaching on homosexuality. Ssenyonjo was reported to have complained that he had been ostracised by church authorities for his support of homosexuals.

Tatchell arrived on 31 July at the university campus in Canterbury, where the Lambeth Conference is taking place, to be part of a protest during which a 40-foot banner was unfurled. The banner’s message to the bishops at the Lambeth Conference read, "Stop crucifying queers [homosexuals]".

"There’s huge hypocrisy in the church," Tatchell told journalists. "We all know there are lesbian and gay people in quite senior positions, some of them endorsing an anti-gay stance. They are bearing false witness."


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