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NIGERIA: Akinola rebuffs response from Episcopal Church's House of Bishops

[Church of Nigeria] Nigeria's Anglican Primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has rejected a response from the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops' to requests made by the Primates in a February communiqué.

The Primates, Akinola said in a September 26 statement, called for "clarity and a rejection of what hitherto has been endless series of ambiguous and misleading statements. Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored."

Akinola called the House of Bishops September 20-25 meeting in New Orleans "one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance from The Episcopal Church of their commitment to the mind and teaching of the Communion."

The Primates asked for a response from the House of Bishops by September 30, specifically requesting clarification of Resolution B033, passed at the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention in 2006. The House of Bishops on September 25 agreed overwhelmingly by voice vote to reiterate B033 that said they would "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

They also pledged not to authorize public rites for same-gender blessings "until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action," according to the response.

"The unequivocal assurances that we sought have not been given," Akinola said. "What we have is a carefully calculated attempt to win support to ensure attendance at the Lambeth Conference and continued involvement in the life of the Communion."

Akinola is one of the Anglican Communion's leading critics of the Episcopal Church. He has maintained that homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture and repeatedly called for the Episcopal Church to repent for its recent actions. He is among four Primates who have indicated their bishops may not attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference since Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on May 22 sent out invitations to the once-a-decade gathering.

"Instead of the change of heart (repentance) that we sought what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment in an unrelenting determination to 'bring the rest of the Communion along' as stated by a bishop at one of the press conferences," Akinola said in his September 26 statement. "We also note that while we have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on same-sex blessings -- across the Episcopal Church the clergy have continued with these blessings with the full knowledge and support of the Diocesan bishops even if not technically authorized."

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, also issued a statement September 26 on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, which met with the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops.

Members of the Joint Standing Committee intend to consult with one another "in the preparation of a report to be submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the end of the week offering an early response to the statement that the House of Bishops have developed," Kearon said.

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