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South African Anglican in bid to shift focus from sex issues to poverty

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
South African Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has announced an initiative to re-focus the mission of the worldwide Anglican Communion towards ending poverty and addressing the effects of climate change, rather than on issues around sexuality that are forcing divisions in the grouping.

Ndungane, the archbishop of Cape Town, has been appointed by the Anglican Communion to co-ordinate its efforts on issues of debt, trade, HIV/AIDS and poverty.

"It is a scandal … that in a world where we have seen growth affected by globalisation, 800 million people go hungry every day," said Ndungane, announcing the initiative on 2 February at the end of a meeting in South Africa’s parliamentary capital. "And we have been told that what we are seeing in terms of HIV and AIDS is minuscule compared to the devastation that climate change is going to bring."

Alluding to controversies over sexuality, particularly pertaining to the ordination of gay clergy, which threaten to tear the Anglican Communion apart, he said there was a groundswell of support across member churches for action which would shift the focus to issues which affected the everyday lives of Anglicans.

"It’s not just evil, it is sinful that 120 million children of school-going age, most of them girls, cannot go to school, this in a world where there are surpluses," said Ndungane, who was active in the struggle against apartheid prior to the 1990s and succeeded Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu as Anglican leader in South Africa.

The initiative will begin with a major global Anglican meeting, to be held in South Africa’s Gauteng province in March next year, bringing together delegations from the Communion’s 38 autonomous churches, which account for more than 70 million people. Ndungane said the heads of all the churches would be invited and it was hoped the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, would take part.

(c) Ecumenical News International

Photo : Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane