Nigerians distance themselves from Canterbury

by
02 November 2006

THE Church of Nigeria has deleted all former references to "communion with the See of Canterbury" and has "redefined" its relationship with all other Anglican Churches, in a re-worded constitution announced at the Church's General Synod in Onitsha, Nigeria, last week.

It will now be in communion only with those who share the view that it regards as orthodox. A new section of the constitution reads: "The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), hereinafter called 'The Church of Nigeria' or 'This Church', shall be in communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the historic faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion."

Nigeria announced its intention earlier this year to form a Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America as a "safe harbour" for Nigerian Anglicans who felt unable to worship in the US Episcopal Church ( News, 15 April). That is now enshrined in the new constitution, which allows the Church of Nigeria to create "chaplaincies of like-minded faithful outside of Nigeria and to appoint persons within or outside of Nigeria to administer them and the Primate shall give Episcopal oversight". Convocation is defined as a "non-geographic collection of Churches and Mission".

The C of E House of Bishops' statement allowing gay clergy to register civil partnerships while requiring from them a pledge of celibacy, continues to be interpreted by Nigeria and other conservative provinces as approval of same-sex "marriage" ( News, 16 September).

The Archbishop of South East Asia, the Most Revd Yong Ping Chung, speaking at the Nigerian Synod on "The Changing Face of the Anglican Communion", announced: "I am not going to let my pulpit get defiled by people who don't accept the gospel."

The Church of Nigeria press release reporting the Archbishop's speech explained: "He was referring to a section of the Anglican Communion, particularly the American and Canadian Churches and lately the Church of England, who condones and approves homosexual marriage."

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