Sudanese Anglicans demand gay bishop Gene Robinson resigns

From Times Online
July 22, 2008
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The openly gay bishop of New Hampshire must resign if the Anglican church is to be saved from schism, a senior Archbishop said today.

The Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng, who has the backing of more than 150 bishops and archbishops from 17 provinces in the Global South, said that if Bishop Gene Robinson was to be true to his Christian faith he had no alternative but to step down.

And he called on the 60 bishops who consecrated him, many of whom are at the ten-yearly Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, Kent, to confess, repent and beg for forgiveness for taking the Church to the point of schism.

“God is not making a mistake creating Adam and Eve,” he said. “He would have created two Adams if he wanted.”

Dr Deng’s statement attacking The Episcopal Church of the US was followed immediately by a leading traditionalist US bishop who called on all bishops in sympathy with Bishop Robinson to leave Canterbury.

The Right Rev Jack Iker, Bishop of Forth Worth, said: “Those Bishops who stand in solidarity with Gene Robinson should withdraw themselves from further participation in the Lambeth Conference. Having failed in several attempts to include Gene in the Conference, his supporters should themselves feel a sense of rejection from the Conference itself.

“Integrity and honesty would dictate that they should stand with Gene — excluded from full participation in the Lambeth Conference. Is this all talk, or is it backed up by action?”

The statements from Dr Deng and Bishop Iker show that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempt to unite his warring bishops by sequestering them in a three-day retreat at Canterbury have failed.

With Tuesday marking just the second day of official business and nearly two more weeks to go, the outlook for the Anglican Communion is looking increasingly grim. The conservative bishops are down in number by the 230 boycotting the event but there are enough of them in Canterbury to make clear their increasing anger with the liberal direction the Western Church is taking.

Dr Deng, who comes from a country ravaged by repeated famines, where more than two million people have lost their lives in 21 years of war and more than four million people have become refugees or been internally displaced, said that he had decided to come to the Lambeth Conference to make the voice of the Church of Sudan heard by the West.

“I am making this statement on behalf of my people,” he said.

Regarding Bishop Robinson, who is in Canterbury taking part in events on the fringe of the conference, including a speech this evening, Dr Deng said: “For me, if he says, as he has always said, that he’s a Christian, he should resign for the sake of the Church.”

He added: “We want the Anglican world to remain united.”

Citing Islam as one justification for his stance, Dr Deng said: “We are called infidels by the Islamic world when they hear our brothers and sisters from the Christian world talking about same-sex [relationships] to be blessed.

“Immediately it gives them the way to tell other people, these people are evil. It will give them the upper hand to kill our people.”

An official statement from the bishops of Church of Sudan to the Lambeth Conference reiterated his comments. The Sudanese bishops said: “We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it with the Episcopal Church of Sudan.”

The bishops said that the approval of same-sex blessings in Canada and the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003 have “not only caused deep divisions within the Anglican Communion but [have] seriously harmed the Church’s witness in Africa and elsewhere, opening the church to ridicule and damaging its credibility in a multi-religious environment.”

Ironically, the Church of Sudan has had close relations with The Episcopal Church for many years and its bishops were even hosted alongside US bishops in Salisbury the week before the Conference opened.

The Episcopal Church defended its actions. Dr Charles Robertson, canon to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, said that the Church was committed to “fruitful collaboration of ministry with the Church in Sudan”.

He said: “We continue to look forward to finding ways to move forward in our own culture and context.”

The problems of homosexual bishops and same-sex blessings are not the only difficulties affecting the Lambeth Conference. Organisers are facing a budget shortfall of up to £2 million. The funding crisis is so severe that even in sky-high temperatures organisers have been unable to pay for air conditioning inside the sweltering conditions of the large blue circus-style tent in which plenary sessions are being held.

An emergency meeting of the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners has been called as soon as the conference ends next month. The Commissioners who have the funds to bail out the conference are not allowed by their charitable trust deeds to fund any except Church of England bishops.

Ironically, the one church that has the funds to bail out the conference is The Episcopal Church of the US. One senior source told The Times: “At the moment we just cannot pay for it.”

2 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Rev.Daau Says:

    Archbp Deng, congratulations… have shown how rich is our faith in Christ despite how we suffered for the gospel ......some Americans liberal/revisionist think ECS supports their revisionism ...its not the case,

    Many others in the communion remain doubting us and thought you or all the ECS bishops are deeply pocketed by TEC (Catherine Shori)

    Keep telling them, that Christ is the Lord, He has died for our sin, he resurrected and He is coming again. His word is the Authority….it is superior

    I love your statement ““The Bible is not to be changed by the culture. The culture is to be changed by the Bible,” he said. Halleluia

  2. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    The only thing that can break the Lambeth stalemate is Gene Robinson’s resignation.