Indian church leaders say they are extremely unhappy with
the recent trends in the Anglican church to induct gay priests and are hinting
they could join the conservative breakaway faction floated recently. Bishops in Mumbai have denounced homosexuals
as people "not of sound mind."
Worldwide a major rebellion is brewing. The Fellowship of
Confessing Anglicans, set up at Jerusalem last month, has announced it will sever ties with the main
churches in the US and Canada.
The Fellowship has promised to set up a council of bishops to
help restore order to what it has called the "chaos" over the last
five years within the worldwide Anglican church.
The ordination of
Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire, US is considered the tipping point.
On Sunday the traditionalists published the so-called
"Jerusalem Declaration" calling for a return to church teachings
based on the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.
It is a coalition
of bishops, archbishops and lay people from around the world. They hail from
churches in the southern hemisphere - Africa, Asia, Australia,
South America - but also enjoy the support of unhappy conservative evangelicals from the US, Canada and England. The coalition members
represent around half of the world's 77 million Anglicans.
Gay clergy and
same-sex unions are the main irritant for those seceding from the Anglican
communion; however, Foca members are also unhappy with the West's failure to
proselytise to non-Christians.
Both the Church of North India (CNI) and the Church of South
India (CSI) are supporting the conservative breakaway faction.
"We are not
comfortable with the idea of gay priests," said Reverend Prakash Patole, Bishop
of Mumbai, CNI.
"CNI and CSI have accepted women priests but we haven't got
to the stage of welcoming homosexuals," said Reverend K.I. Dyvasirvadam of St
Stephen's Church, Bandra. "The Bible talks of eunuchs, lepers and people not of
sound mind and homosexuality being accepted by Jesus... but there is a big
difference between a gay man coming to church and having gay priests."
Similar views were echoed by the CSI. "The Bible does not
recognise gay marriages or gay priests," said Reverend Benny Thomas of CSI,
Gay Christians in Mumbai have reacted strongly to the news
that their church has lurched further to the right, and pointed out that King
James of England, who introduced the modern Bible, was a homosexual.
"Indian Church leaders should place King James under the
'not of sound mind' list and stop using his Bible," said George Thomas (26,
name changed), a designer from Andheri and member of CSI. "I never divulged my
sexuality fearing backlash. But church leaders should encourage more tolerance."
The Church faces another summit at the Lambeth Conference to
be held in London on July 16, at which global representatives will decide the
future of the faith of its eight crore followers.