THE Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has told Episcopalians in the United States that he is “inspired” by the way in which they defend the rights of gay people, but that their decision on same-sex marriage has put other Churches in the Communion at risk.
“Being in communion with you threatens their witness to the same Lord Jesus, especially, but not only, in Muslim contexts, where the cultural sensibilities about human sexuality are so very different,” he said on Sunday. “In short, your decision puts many of us at risk.”
He was addressing clergy at a study day before the installation of the Rt Revd Peter Eaton as the Bishop of Southeast Florida.
“As an African and Anglican, I am most challenged by the reality that, in many of our countries, including my own, homosexuality is a criminal offence,” he said. “I have made many people in my Church, and in the government of Nigeria, very angry with me by my repeated objections to the criminalising of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
“The Episcopal Church has stood up for the rights of gay and lesbian people here and around the world, and I am inspired. But changing the doctrine of marriage to include those same people has not inspired most of the Anglican family. . .
“As much as Episcopalians are scandalised by the criminalisation of homosexuality in some parts of the world, know that other Anglicans are scandalised by your change of the doctrine of marriage.”
“I know that for your Church to accept these consequences is to accept a costly and painful unity,” he said. “But please know that, for many of the Primates, who needed an even safer distance from the Episcopal Church, the consequences, as they stand, put them, too, on the path of costly unity.”
On Monday, a letter from 50 priests in the Church of Ireland to the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry, thanked him for “exemplary witness”, and “dissociated” its authors from the Primates’ decision on the Episcopal Church.