The Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Eliud Wabukala, Chairman of GAFCON Primates Council, has issued a statement posted on the GAFCON web site about the Church of England’s decision to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be appointed as bishops. The statement is reproduced below.
Unless the Archbishop has a knowledge of the workings of the Church of England and the dynamics of the Church’s attitude to LGB&T people which would be remarkable for a Kenyan, the statement was clearly drafted by someone from the UK. I can only speculate as to who that person might be, from what is quite a small field of possibilities.
The arguments rehearsed in the letter are familiar. The Archbishop (or his ghost writer) is right in saying that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living.
I inevitably disagree with his view that legally recognised same-sex relationships are contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture. The 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 is inevitably cited, despite it being observed only in part by both progressives and conservatives.
The Archbishop’s position in Kenya is now compromised because at least two of his own bishops have moved to a position which is much more sympathetic to the affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I learnt this at first hand in conversation with two bishops (and retired Archbishop David Gitari) when visiting Kenya in March 2012.
I also met many lesbian and gay Kenyan Christians and a significant number of Kenyan priests who fully support the affirmation of same-sex relationships and advocate for the Church of Kenya to review its position.
The Archbishop’s letter is, in truth, moderate in tone compared with utterances from other African Primates and bishops. Whether drafted by him or a colleague in England, this is to be welcomed. It reveals a change of attitude which, whilst still hostile to the place of LGB&T people in the Church, is more realistic and allows space in which conversation becomes more possible.
The Revd Michael Kimindu, a member of Changing Attitude Kenya’s steering committee, asked the Archbishop if he would meet me when I was in Nairobi. He declined. It would be a really positive step forward if, when I next visit, he opens the door to me and we can sit and talk face to face about our differences and about the real presence of LGB&T people in congregations across Kenya.
Church of England Bishops and civil partnerships
January 7, 2013
A statement by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala
As we enter the season of Epiphany we rejoice in the splendour of the light that has dawned upon us in the appearance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet it is a great sadness that before the New Year has hardly begun, the life of the Anglican Communion has yet again been clouded by compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West.
The decision by the Church of England’s House of Bishops, just announced, that clergy in Civil Partnerships can be eligible to serve as bishops will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge.
The provisions of the UK’s Civil Partnership legislation mimic marriage for same sex couples and are clearly designed on the assumption that such couples are sexually active. While it is true that the House of Bishops require bishops with Civil Partners to be celibate, this proviso is clearly unworkable. It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book.
However, the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living. It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture, as reaffirmed for Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10.
The weight of this moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso. In his teaching about marriage, Jesus reaffirms that marriage is the coming together of a man and a woman in accordance with the pattern of creation itself when he says ‘from the beginning of creation God made them male and female’ (Mark 10:6). For the health and well being of both church and society we must promote this great God given gift of marriage without compromise and ambiguity.
The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council
Epiphany Sunday 2013