The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the “unacceptable” language that the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Henry Ndukuba, used to describe gay people.
In response to a statement on the pastoral care of gay people issued by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in January, Archbishop Ndukuba wrote last week: “The deadly ‘virus’ of homosexuality has infiltrated ACNA. This is likened to a Yeast that should be urgently and radically expunged and excised lest it affects the whole dough (Luke 13:20-21; Gal. 5:9).”
In a statement issued on Friday, however, Archbishop Welby says: “I completely disagree with and condemn this language. It is unacceptable. It dehumanises those human beings of whom the statement speaks.
“I have written privately to His Grace The Archbishop to make clear that this language is incompatible with the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion (expressed most clearly, albeit in unsuitable language for today, in paragraphs c and d of resolution I.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998).
“This resolution both restated a traditional view of Christian marriage and was clear in its condemnation of homophobic actions or words. It affirmed that ‘all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’”
The statement concludes: “The Anglican Communion continues to seek to walk together amidst much difference and through many struggles. I urge all Christians to join me in continuing prayer for the people and churches of Nigeria as they face economic hardship, terrorist attacks, religious-based violence and insecurity.
“The mission of the Church is the same in every culture and country: to demonstrate, through its actions and words, that God’s offer of unconditional love to every human being through Jesus Christ calls us to holiness and hope.”
Archbishop Welby’s episcopal colleagues have expressed support for the statement.
The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, posted on Twitter: “I welcome and support @JustinWelby’s clear condemnation of the language used by Archbishop Ndukuba in his recent statement. I share his sorrow that LGBTI+ people across the world will feel less safe as a result.”
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, posted: “I support the Archbishop’s comments and share his condemnation of the language used.”