Archbishop reacts strongly to queries over homophobic climate in Uganda

 

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, reacted strongly to media questions in Dublin yesterday which queried the role of the Anglican primate of Uganda, Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi, in fomenting a climate in which gay activist David Kato was murdered there last Wednesday.

Bishop Orombi was one of seven Anglican Church leaders who boycotted the Anglican Primates Meeting in Dublin which concluded yesterday, because Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the US Episcopal Church, was attending it.

The absent primates do not approve of the US church’s ordination of actively gay bishops or its same-sex blessings.

Defending Bishop Orombi, Archbishop Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, emphasised that, as with other relevant Anglican primates, Bishop Orombi’s position concerned “exclusion from ministry on grounds of behaviour, not orientation”.

He continued that Mr Kato had been “named in this rotten, disgraceful Ugandan publication” – the Rolling Stone newspaper in Kampala – in which “effectively, his murder had been called for.”

It illustrated, he said, that “words have results . . . certainly a lesson all need to learn”.

At the same press conference, in Dublin’s Emmaus Centre, Bishop Bernard Ntahoturi, primate of the Episcopal Church of Burundi, said he deplored “the killing of David as I deplore the killing of any other human being.”

Speaking at Christ Church Cathedral yesterday morning Bishop Jefferts Schori said the primate of Uganda faced “significant challenges”.

She prayed for him and for the soul of David Kato, whose death was a reminder of “the need to treat all human beings with dignity”.

Asked whether precipitous action by the US Episcopal Church had plunged the worldwide Anglican Communion into unnecessary crisis, she said the same-sex issue has been under consideration by the US church “for nearly 50 years”.

Meanwhile a service in Trinity College Dublin was told yesterday that “any church that preaches intolerance is contributing to the very real and deadly consequences of homophobia”.

Canon Giles Goddard, of Inclusive Church England, recalled that David Kato “was bludgeoned to death in his home in Uganda . . . At his funeral, the officiant – who was an Anglican lay reader – ranted against homosexuality.

“And at the end of the service the villagers refused to bury his coffin”.

Anglicans, he stated, “need to find a way out of the absurd stalemate we are in over human sexuality”.

He continued that “here we are in Ireland, close to a living example of what’s possible in extremely complicated issues with flexibility and care.

“I do not believe that something similar isn’t possible within the Anglican Communion. It’s time to find that way.”

Commenting on the absent primates at yesterday’s press conference Archbishop Williams felt that while those present were “not oblivious” to those who were not, “no meeting can allow itself be shaped wholly by people who are not there”.

Over their six-day meeting the primates agreed statements on climate change and on the murder of David Kato, an open letter to President Robert Mugabe on the persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe, and a statement on the church’s response to violence against women and girls.