Nobel Peace Laureate and South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says that Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams should be tackling homophobia in the church and making it a welcoming place for lesbian and gay people.
In a BBC radio interview to be broadcast next Tuesday, 27 November 2007, Archbishop Tutu says that he is depressed by the Church’s "obsession" with the issue of gay priests, and believes that its Gospel message is being undermined by "extreme homophobia".
Tutu says Christians should instead be focusing on global problems such as combatting prejudice, poverty, AIDS/HIV and the environment.
"Our world is facing problems – poverty, HIV and Aids – a devastating pandemic, and conflict," said the archbishop, who is now aged 76 and has survived ill health to continue his work for a more just world.
"God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another. In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality."
Of Dr Rowan Williams, whose own pro-gay attitude has been submerged in his desire to keep a warring Church together, Dr Tutu says: "Why doesn’t he demonstrate a particular attribute of God’s which is that God is a welcoming God?"
In the interview, Archbishop Tutu refers to the US and worldwide furore surrounding the election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, to serve as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.
He says the Anglican Church has seemed "extraordinarily homophobic" in its handling of the issue, and that he had feels "saddened" and "ashamed" of his church at the time.
Asked if he still felt ashamed, he says: "If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes. If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God."
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Photo : South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu