Nigerian Anglicans tackle Britain on Canterbury Bishop selection

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has demanded a change in the age-long tradition that allows the British government to appoint the Archbishop of Canterbury, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

The Primate of the Church, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, on Wednesday in Abuja made the call at a media briefing to herald the 2012 Divine Commonwealth Conference scheduled to begin in the city next week.

NAN reports that  the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, is due to retire by the end of the year and according to the tradition, the British Prime Minister is expected to name his successor.

The appointment of the new Church leader is based on the recommendations of the UK-based Crown Nominations Commission, a 16-member body made up of bishops, priests and laity.

Okoh, a fierce critic of the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, described the selection process for the new church leader as “politicised”.

The cleric said, “The Prime minister of Britain will have to appoint (the Archbishop of Canterbury), whether he is a member of the Church or not.

“When you consider the political involvement, you can see the point we are trying to make.

“In other words, we are trying to say the Anglican Communion should be separated from the politics of Great Britain.”

He acknowledged that since the Archbishop of Canterbury, doubled as the Primate of the Church of England,  the British people were at liberty “to choose their own method of selecting him”.

He added, “But what we have asked for is that for the fact that most of the churches that make up the Communion were part and parcel of the British Empire before, the original British Empire has changed method, which is now the Commonwealth, the same thing, the leadership in the Church should equally change.”

Okoh said the Church of Nigeria, following the request of the Crown Commission, had sent its recommendations and views to the 16-member body selecting the new church leader.

He  said, “We have made our input; whether the input will be taken is another matter.

“But for the kind of person we will want to see; somebody who will bring unity to the Church, particularly in the areas of doctrine.

“We will like somebody who will be biblically based not somebody with wilde theologies.”

Okoh said one of the recommendations of the Church of Nigeria was for the Archbishop of Canterbury to run a single term of five years.

He said, “The historical position of the Archbishop of Canterbury is alright and he should be entitled to respect and dignity of office.

“But the leader of the worldwide communion should change in the sense that we would prefer a situation whereby we have the president of the group or chairman who will run office for about five years and hand over to another person.”

Okoh  frowned upon what he described “radical redefinition of biblical teaching in the name of homosexuality” saying, “it is evil and unacceptable”.

He said, “The recent same-sex proposal is a misinterpretation of the scripture and some sections of the church are riding rough on the scripture. The radical redefinition of the scripture is unacceptable. The attacks on the scripture is also affecting the people. If you misrepresent the scripture and accept homosexuality, then your radical definition is unbiblical and unacceptable.

“Those who will attend the conference are people of like minds who do not subscribe to man-to-man marriage and woman-to-woman marriage. The redefinition of biblical teaching is abhorrent and we do not accept it.”

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