Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Nigerian primate’s description of gay people as a ‘virus’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the primate of Nigeria’s description of gay people as a ‘virus’.

In January, the Council of Bishops in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) issued an anti-LGBT+ pastoral statement on homosexuality, to act as a set of guidelines for church members across America.

The bishops described being gay as “disordered affection”, and insisted that those who “experience same-sex attraction” were able to have a “change in their feelings”.

But for the Archbishop of Nigeria, Henry Ndukuba, the statement was not homophobic enough.

Responding to it, he said this month: “The deadly ‘virus’ of homosexuality has infiltrated ACNA.

“This is likened to a yeast that should be urgently and radically expunged and excised lest it affects the whole dough.”

He also said he believes “secular governments are adopting aggressive campaign for global homosexual culture”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is the the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion as well as the leader of the Church of England, has now condemned Ndukuba’s language as “unacceptable”.

Welby said in a statement: “I completely disagree with and condemn this language. It is unacceptable. It dehumanises those human beings of whom the statement speaks.

“I have written privately to his grace the Archbishop to make clear that this language is incompatible with the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion.”

He added that the ACNA pastoral statement “both restated a traditional view of Christian marriage and was clear in its condemnation of homophobic actions or words”.

“It affirmed that ‘all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ’,” Welby said.

While Church of England members praised the archbishop for his condemnation of the Nigerian primate’s language, the church remains divided over LGBT+ issues.

Last year, the Church of England published a set of resources titled Living in Love and Faith, exploring LGBT+ issues including “identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage”.

While the materials admit the ongoing harm to the LGBT+ community by the church, it said it would not be implementing any changes until at least 2022.