African Bishop Accuses Anglican Head of 'Betrayal'

The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, has accused the head of the Anglican Communion of betraying biblically faithful churches by inviting bishops involved in the consecration of an openly gay bishop to their global conference.

Orombi, one of more than 200 bishops boycotting the two-week Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, said in a comment for The Times that the current system for appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Dr. Rowan Williams, was a "remnant of colonialism."

"Even the Pope is elected by his peers. But what Anglicans have is a man appointed by a secular government," wrote Orombi.

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"Over the past five years, we have come to see this as a remnant of British colonialism, and it is not serving us well," he added. "The spiritual leadership of a global communion of independent and autonomous provinces should not be reduced to one man appointed by a secular government."

Bishops are in the process of drafting final reflections, largely drawn from the outcomes of the discussion groups at the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference. In the document, the bishops acknowledge a "lack of confidence" in the structures of Communion.

They also state, "We must acknowledge that there are great tensions in our relationship at present, and an erosion of trust between us."

Nevertheless, bishops at Lambeth want to work together and some have called Orombi's remarks disrespectful.

"They were very strong words, I must say, especially since the Archbishop [of Canterbury] has tried to keep the church together," said the Rt. Rev. Ragnar Persenius, Bishop of Upssala, in Communion through the Swedish Lutheran Church, according to VirtueOnline, a conservative Anglican publication.

"I wonder what conservatives are doing to keep the church together. They do not seem to contribute to a solution. Some are not even speaking to others. Although they have serious theological disagreements, they also have to get into the conversation," Persenius added, while noting that most Lambeth attendees "want to stay together."

Orombi's attack comes as bishops debate the most divisive issue in the Anglican Communion, human sexuality. The 2003 consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson widened rifts within the global Communion.

Bishops said that Thursday's discussions on sexuality had been characterized by generosity and respect.

"We haven't suddenly reached a consensus about the issues of human sexuality. The problems are not all solved but there are significant differences," the Most Rev. Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Australia and spokesman for the Conference, told reporters.

The Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, the Most Rev. Ian Ernest, commented, "We are able to look at each other. We are able to shed tears with one another, but at the same time knowing that we've got different ways and different convictions."

On Friday, bishops are tackling the controversial Anglican Covenant on structures of unity in the Communion.

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