Willams expresses shock, seeks clarification from Akinola

Saturday update: Josh Thomas's take on all of this is here.

Friday updates:

Evening update:. Episcopal Cafe has received word from UPI that they cannot confirm that NAN’s September 2 report of remarks by Bishop Orama will be retracted. Contact NAN for that information.

UPI’s Africa Monitoring service is a pass-through of NAN and other African news agency stories. UPI does not vouch for their accuracy. The UPI tag was added to this story in error. However, given the uncertainty now surrounding the story we have removed it from our site and informed customers receiving the Africa Monitoring material that we have done so.

Afternoon update: The Church of Nigeria is denying that Bishop Orama made the statments attributed to him. The Living Church has a story here. It reports Canon AkinTunde Popoola's claim that a reporter from the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria has apologized for misquoting the bishop, but doesn't identify the reporter or say how the agency plans to respond to a mistake of this magnitude. A statement from the reporter--either independently or via the agency, and a copy of the bishop's speech to his synod would go a long way toward clearing this up. Stay tuned.

From the Anglican Communion Office:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed deep shock at remarks said to have been made by the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac Orama concerning gay and lesbian people.

The Archbishop will be contacting the Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, to seek clarification. Dr Williams said "The safety of people of gay and lesbian sexual orientation is a matter of concern for us all. The Anglican Primates, along with all other official bodies in the Anglican Communion, have consistently called for an end to homophobia, violence and hatred. If these reports are correct I would urge the bishop to apologise. Such comments are unacceptable and profoundly shocking on the lips of any Christian".

Canon James M Rosenthal
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew's House
Director of Communications
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP UK

Comments (11)

It's about time Dr. Williams spoke up and long overdue. 815, are you listening?

Ricard Warren

Too little, too late, but better late than never.

June Butler

The fact that Canterbury is shocked and so many gay and lesbian persons are not should give pause. This is par for the course and not the first time. It was only a matter of time from dehumanizing words to worse, and we've been saying so for years now.

While he said it more crudely, is the Bishop of Uyo that far from the "results" of the "listening" in Nigeria?

Look at the report and note it refers not to any listening, but to Akinola's decrees. Not sure though who wrote up the report.

I note that the report calls for disciplining the Church of England. Will there be a call for disciplining of the Bishop of Uyo? Doesn't the problem reside with teaching further up the chain of command?

What I find most interesting about this comment, is the fact that Archbishop Williams has brought Archbishop Akinola into the situation by asking him rather than the bishop of Uyo for an explanation.

One doesn't knock on a door that way by accident. I'm also drawn to the fact that the Archbishop has made this request to his brother Archbishop publicly and (for Lambeth) quickly. This is a departure from previous practice as best I can recall.

Too little and too late is absolutely right, Grandmere Mimi. Request clarification and an apology? 'Gee dad, I'm real sorry I hit my sister, especially if saying so means that I won't be punished.' From the offensive letter of Jack Spong to the vicious words of the extreme conservatives, we are beginning to make congress look like the model of civility.

I thank God for the few people who can still model disagreement without being personal, and approach conversations with humility and a desire to change themselves not just the other. Confirmation is going to be an interesting class this year.

Nick's points are well-taken. It will be interesting to see how Akinola handles this. Davis Mac-Ayalla has made it clear that Akinola handpicks his bishops, so I don't think Orama can easily be dismissed as a loose cannon. The secular analogy might be to a cabinet official in the federal government. If one of them were to say what Orama said, would anyone argue that it wasn't a reflection on President Bush?

More about Orama's selection here
in the last paragraphs.

The bishop is now denying he made these remarks. That news comes from Tunde Popoola, the canon for communications of Nigeria whom we have learned to distrust, but let's keep an eye on this for further developments.

A little more info to add: The article in question, while distributed by UPI (which, like The Washington Times is owned by Rev. Moon,) was never touched by UPI's people. That's according to UPI. They offer a distribution service to other news agencies, and the state-run News Agency of Nigeria, which posted this story, is a client. The agency's web site is badly outdated, and it is difficult to tell how widely this story was circulated in Nigeria. It does not appear to have had much of a ride in the dailies with strong web presences, but I don't know enough about the Nigerian media to know whether that is indicative of the amount of "play" it received.

Still trying to form an opinion of the News Agency of Nigeria. Their Web site is badly outdated and doesn't encourage confidence. But if you do a Goolge News search you will find that their information gets picked up by lots of African papers and news agencies. So I don't think they can be simply dismissed as a news source, eventhough we don't hae a full sense yet of how they operate, how many different kinds of feeds they have, etc.

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