Nigeria’s Anglican Archbishop, Peter Akinola, has denied any ambition to lead a breakaway church, despite his strong opposition to his western colleagues in the Anglican dispute over gay priests.
His conservative views towards gay marriage has made him a popular figure within the conservative wing of the church.
He told the The Times: “That has never been on my mind. We are going nowhere.
“We have our traditions, we have not broken the law. It is your churches that are breaking the law. You are the ones doing what should not be done with impunity,” he said.
He claimed as many as 120 bishops may boycott next year’s Lambeth Conference unless the American church repudiates its current accepting attitude towards gay clergy and relationships.
The ordination in New Hampshire of Gene Robinson the first gay bishop in the 450 years since the church began, in 2003, led to a divide between the liberal and conservative camps in the 77 million member Anglican Church.
A number of American Anglican, or Episcopalian, congregations have decided to place themselves under the authority of bishops in Africa who are hostile to gay people in the church.
The spiritual leader of the Anglican communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, asked Archbishop Akinola not to install Bishop Martyn Mimms as a bishop of the Nigerian church with pastoral responsibility for the breakaway Americans, but Akinola continued to do just that.
Akinola told the The Times he did not deny the existence of homosexuality in Africa but said:
“All we are saying is do not celebrate what the Bible is saying is wrong. If the Bible says it is an aberration, it is an aberration. Do not do it.
“We see it as a problem that can be treated.”
The powerful Anglican leader said that the calls for African churches to be more liberal was an effort to reinforce colonial attitudes.
“For God’s sake, let us be. When America invades Afghanistan, it is in the name of world peace. When Nigeria moves to Biafra, it is an invasion.
“When England takes the Gospel to another country, it is mission. When Nigeria takes it to America, it is an intrusion.
“All this imperialistic mentality, it is not fair.”