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African bishop looks to breakthrough on homosexuality row

Anglican churches will soon return to their mission to alleviate poverty, disease and injustice and abandon a "fixation" with homosexuality, says Anglican Bishop Trevor Mwamba, the recently-appointed dean of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa.

"Very few of us take the homosexual debate as a top priority issue because there are more pressing issues facing the African church," Mwamba told Ecumenical News International in a telephone interview from his office in the Botswana capital Gaborone.

"Most African Anglicans want to get back to basics and concentrate on poverty, disease, injustice and the need for transparency in governments," said the dean of the central African region, made up of churches in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The worldwide Anglican Communion has been deeply divided since the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson, a divorced father who lives with a male partner, as a bishop in the US Episcopal (Anglican) Church. Some bishops from the global South have threatened to boycott a gathering in 2008 of the world’s Anglican bishops if their counterparts from the United States attend.

Mwamba said, however, he thought there would be "forward movement, even a breakthrough, on this issue" when leaders of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa meet in Mauritius from 2 to 5 October.

"I believe that quite number of African bishops who have threatened not to attend next year’s Lambeth Conference in Canterbury may change their minds," he said. "Yes, there are problems, but a week is a long time in politics and we still have almost a year to go before the next Lambeth Conference," the meeting of global Anglican leaders that takes place every 10 years. 

(c) Ecumenical News International