Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

In the wake of extreme anti-gay sentiment in a number of African countries, the Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Anglicans on the continent to show love and care for LGBT people.

Appallingly, Anglican churches in Africa have been among the most vociferous supporters of recent anti-gay legislation passed in Nigeria and Uganda.

Now, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the symbolic head of the global church, known as the Anglican Communion, has finally spoken out against the dehumanising and draconian laws.

Together with John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, he has sent a letter to Anglican leaders in Africa, and reportedly to the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria, restating the church’s official stance towards gays and lesbians.

In the letter, the archbishops referred to a communiqué issued by the Anglican Communion’s leaders in 2005 in which they affirmed their unreserved commitment “to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.”

The communiqué also said: “We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give – pastoral care and friendship.”

The letter was released as Archbishop Welby left for a five day trip to Africa, where the letter and his call for tolerance is likely to be received with anger and defiance.

The Anglican Communion is sharply divided over the issues of recognising gay marriage and of appointing gay and female clergy. In October last year, over 300 traditionalist Anglican bishops asserted not only their opposition to same-sex marriage but also to “cohabitation” by gays and lesbian.

In March, the head of Nigeria’s Anglican Church, Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, warned his countrymen of the “evil wind” of “the homosexual agenda” that, he claimed, is spreading across the world.

In June 2012, the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), which represents Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, issued a statement against “the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union.”

Shockingly, the spiritual leaders called on the Ugandan government “to speed-up the process of enacting the Anti-Homosexuality law,” which can jail gays and lesbians for life. The law, which originally proposed the death penalty, was passed late last year but is yet to be signed by the Ugandan president.

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Dr. Thabo Makgoba, has stood out on the continent by vocally rejecting discrimination against LGBT people.

Below is the Archbishops’ full letter.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction. In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.

The Communiqué said;

‘….we wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

‘The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give – pastoral care and friendship.’

We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine communiqué speaks.”

Yours in Christ,

Justin Cantuar
Sentamu Eboracensis

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