Anti-gay Nigerian bishop appointed to head global Anglican church
An anti-gay Nigerian bishop has been appointed as the new head of the Anglican Communion.
Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the former Anglican Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna, has been named the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
The Communion – of which Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is Primate – has struggled in recent years to reconcile the views of Western and hardline African churches.
According to Changing Attitude and Episcopal Cafe, the body’s new head has a track record of anti-gay comments – savaging the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2003.
In a 2007 interview attacked people of “abnormal sexual orientation”, claiming African churches had been “cheated” and “deceived” by a shifting cultural acceptance.
Outlets have also cited a report in the Nigerian New Telegraph last year in which he said it was “good” that the Nigerian government criminalised homosexuality – but the bishop strongly denies making those remarks.
Bishop Idowu-Fearon said in a statement: “I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it.
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“For the majority of African Christians, the Bible judges culture, including African culture.
“As African Christians we must accept other cultures and the way they also understand the Bible’s relationship with culture. I accept and promote a culture of respect for such differences.”
Rt Revd James Tengatenga, Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, added in a statement that reports “misrepresent and distort his comments” – continuing: “The views attributed in the article to Bishop Josiah do not reflect what is widely known to be his position, both within Nigeria and amongst those who know him.”
Campaigners have voiced concern at the appointment – though Colin Coward of Changing Attitude notes: “I have met Bishop Josiah twice and found him open to me as a gay priest and activist and far less obviously hostile than he is now being portrayed.
“I have often wondered whether his more extreme remarks were made to satisfy the deep prejudices of the collective House of Bishops in Nigeria.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “I warmly welcome the appointment of Bishop Josiah and look forward to working closely with him in the renewal of the Anglican Communion amidst the global challenges facing us today.”