African bishops say Anglicans in West strayed from God

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams arrives at a past Lambeth Conference in Cantebury.

ENTEBBE, Tuesday

The Anglican church in the West no longer adheres to the word of God, African bishops said Tuesday at a continental conference attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams, the head of the world-wide Anglican Communion, has been criticised by some African church leaders for his tolerant stance on homosexuality.

"Today, the West is lacking obedience to the word of God," Reverend Ian Ernest of Mauritius, the head of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, told journalists.

"It is for us (Africans) to redress the situation," he said, adding that he has severed all ties to the Episcopalian churches in Canada and the US that have allowed gays to enter the clergy.

The conference host, the Archbishop of Uganda Henry Luke Orombi, said African leaders would use the six-day meeting to voice the concerns about the "ailing church" to Williams.

"Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God," Orombi said. "It is good (that) Archbishop Rowan is here. We are going to express to him where we stand. We are going to explain where our pains are."

Orombi also said that disputes over homosexuality had already divided the global Anglican community.

"There is already a break. It doesn't need to be announced. It is in the way people act," he said.

Williams delivered a sermon Tuesday during the opening of the meeting, the first of its kind since 2004.

While he did not mention homosexuality, he said it was the duty of all bishops to be open minded on contentious issues.

"We must learn to listen to those we lead and serve to find out what their hopes and needs and confusions are. We must love them and attend to their humanity in all its diversity," he said.

"We cannot assume we always know better and that we always have the right answer to any specific question."