African clergy to train ‘at home’

African bishops meeting in Nigeria to discuss their future ties with the Anglican Church have decided to stop training African priests abroad.

“It is important to establish our own training institution in an environment conducive to Africans themselves,” Kenyan Bishop Julius Kalu said.

Earlier, the head of the 300 bishops at the meeting condemned the ordination of gay priests.

The bishops are also discussing Aids, war and poverty at the five-day summit.

Bishop Kalu said the bishops at the summit felt there was a problem with training ministers abroad because of the different environments.

“I was trained in the United States myself, but now I realise whatever I learnt there is difficult for me to apply here,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa Peter Akinola said they needed to develop their own theology.

“You now have on campus men and men cohabiting, which is against the Africa way of life,” Bishop Akinola said.

“The Western world is embroiled in a new religion which we cannot associate ourselves with.”

‘Aid dependency’

According to the BBC’s Sam Olukoya, Anglican bishops believe the Church will be better positioned to help solve Africa’s problems only if it has a truly African orientation.

The African Anglican division – which represents over half of the world’s Anglican congregation of 70 million – has collided with its US counterpart over same-sex unions and the consecration last year of Gene Robinson, a homosexual.

The Windsor report published by Anglican clergy in October, with the aim of reaching some sort of compromise, called on US Anglicans to ban same-sex marriages and the consecration of gay bishops, although it did not condemn homosexuality outright.

Western Anglicans – mainly in the US – donate almost three-quarters of the funds used by the African council.

Some bishops from Europe and the US feel the time has come for the Anglican Church in Africa to stop depending on foreign assistance, our correspondent says.

“When aid is there it discourages people from discovering their own resources,” said Cecil Winston, attending the conference from Ireland.

Islamic alternative

Bishop Akinola described homosexuality as an “abomination” which contradicted the Bible and African values.

Anglican leaders in Africa say if they condone homosexuality – which is criminalised in the majority of African countries – then Africans will leave the Church or turn to Islam.

Bishop Akinola however has acknowledged there is no unanimity on the ordination of gay clergy.

Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane has said his Church is committed to all its congregation, including homosexuals.

African church congregations are the fastest growing in the world, with Nigeria alone accounting for one quarter of the Anglican Church’s membership.

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