Home > Queensland Synod News > World church leader urges dialogue on homosexuality

World church leader urges dialogue on homosexuality


The head of the World Council of Churches has called for a responsible dialogue on the issue of homosexuality, and said that churches have a pastoral duty to their members who are gay.

"Churches must address homosexuality responsibly," said the Rev. Samuel Kobia, WCC general secretary, in an interview with Ecumenical News International in Nairobi, where he was attending a 4-7 July meeting on HIV and AIDS.  "It is no doubt that the issue is one of the most divisive … but we have to deal with it," said Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya.

"There is a pastoral responsibility that churches have towards gay people particularly if they are members of their congregations," Kobia told ENI.  He added, "If you have members of your congregation who are gay, you can’t throw them out."

The issue of homosexuality has been threatening to tear apart the worldwide Anglican Communion since 2003, when the US Episcopal (Anglican) Church consecrated as a bishop a gay man in a same-sex relationship.  Many Anglican leaders from Africa, Asia and Latin America denounced the action of the US denomination as unbiblical, and some have severed their contacts with the Episcopal Church.

Kobia noted that churches in the global South also had members who are homosexual.  He explained that the WCC is trying to provide churches with positive ways to discuss homosexuality so that homosexual people do not feel condemned, marginalised and abandoned.

"That’s why I say it is a pastoral issue and needs to be addressed as such.  [Churches] cannot run way from their pastoral responsibility of their members," the WCC general secretary said.

"In the Anglican church, even [to] those who are opposed to ordination of gay people, for example, we are saying you should be prepared to dialogue with those who are for it.  Without dialogue you are going to divide the church and destroy yourself," Kobia said.

The WCC was founded in 1948 and has 347 member churches from most Christian traditions.  The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but has representatives on some WCC bodies.

(c) Ecumenical News International