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Associated Press
Kampala, Uganda – Uganda’s Anglican church threatened Monday to secede from the rest of the 77-million member fellowship unless U.S. clergy condemn homosexuality.
The announcement was the latest salvo in a fierce debate about homosexuality has overtaken the global Anglican Communion since its U.S. wing – the Episcopal Church – consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003.
“Anglicanism is just an identity and if they abuse it, we shall secede. We shall remain Christians, but not in the same Anglican Communion,” Church of Uganda spokesman Aron Mwesigye said.
There are about 9.8 million Anglicans in Uganda, according to the country’s last census in 2002.
Last week, Uganda’s Anglican bishops said they would boycott a once-a-decade gathering of worldwide church leaders this summer because of the Episcopal Church’s stance on homosexuality.
Mwesigye said the Ugandan church is now considering a complete severing of ties “because we have complained against homosexuality several times but no action is taken.”
“If they don’t change, and continue to support homosexual practices and same-sex marriages, our relationship with them will be completely broken,” Mwesigye added.
Tensions between more liberal and conservative branches of Anglicanism mounted in 2006 with the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports ordaining gays, as the first female leader of the U.S. church.
Supporters of ordaining gays believe the Bible’s social justice teachings take precedence over its view of sexuality. However, most Anglicans outside the U.S. believe gay relationships are sinful, and they are distancing themselves from the U.S. church.
Mwesigye said that if the Uganda church does break off, it will enlist other African churches to form a separate fellowship that does not condone homosexuality.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, has struggled to hold off one of the biggest meltdowns in Christianity in centuries, but he lacks any direct authority to force a compromise.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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