Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nigeria's Akinola is driving force in Anglican world
Thu Feb 8, 2007
By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) - The worldwide Anglican Communion is officially led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, but he's facing growing competition these days from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

A staunch defender of traditional Christianity, the energetic Akinola, 63, leads a movement of "Global South" churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that has brought the 77-million-strong Communion to the brink of schism.

The power of these churches, which now account for more than half of the Communion, will be on display next week when the primates, or heads of member churches, hold their two-yearly meeting in the Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam.

The traditionalist primates are threatening to snub their new United States counterpart, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, for supporting gay clergy and have persuaded Williams to invite a conservative Episcopal bishop to the meeting along with her.

Depending on where Anglicans stand on homosexuality, Akinola is seen either as the symbol of the shift of Christianity's centre of gravity to the Global South or the man out to divide the third-largest denomination in the faith.
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