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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Gay bishop move rejected by Kenya
Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi
Archbishop Nzimbi said the US church has not gone far enough
The head of Kenya's Anglican Church has rejected a compromise over gay bishops by US Episcopal Church leaders.

They have said they will halt the ordination of gay bishops and public blessings of same-sex relationships to prevent a split in the Anglican Church.

"That word 'halt' is not enough," said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

Many African Anglicans threatened to leave the worldwide Anglican Communion after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop four years ago.

The American Church was told to meet the conditions by 30 September or lose membership of the communion.

US bishops made the decision after a six-day meeting in New Orleans.

The meeting was attended in part by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who urged the Episcopal Church to make concessions for the sake of unity.

'Repent'

Last month, Archbishop Nzimbi presided over the consecration of two US bishops, Bill Murdoch and Bill Atwood, who left the US branch of the Anglican Church - the Episcopal Church - after it consecrated an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003.

Bishop Bill Atwood, left, and Bishop William Murdoch in All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi
Two US bishops were consecrated in Kenya last month

The Kenyan archbishop said the US church leaders' comments did not go far enough.

"What we expected to come from them is to repent - that this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church," he said.

Correspondents say it was hoped the agreement would help defuse the crisis.

But Assistant Bishop of Kampala, Ugandan David Zac Niringiye, says it was "not a change of heart" and showed the church was already split.

"What this situation has brought to the fore is the malaise - something much deeper - that the entire communion has not dealt with and the consecration of Bishop Gene really brought to the surface something that was there," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"It is not the same church because it's broken on very fundamental lines."

Traditionalists in the US are already making plans to set up their own independent church.

Conservative churchgoers believe homosexuality is contrary to the Church's teachings.

However, liberal Anglicans have argued that biblical teachings on justice and inclusion should take precedence.

The Episcopal bishops did reaffirm their commitment to the civil rights of gay people and said they opposed any violence towards them or violation of their dignity.

The meeting in New Orleans follows a summit of Anglican leaders in Tanzania earlier in the year which gave the US Episcopal Church a deadline of 30 September to define its position on the issue.

The leaders threatened that a failure to do so would leave their relationship with the US branch of Anglicanism "damaged at best".


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