By Mary Frances Schjonberg,
[Episcopal News Service] A teleconference meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council will take place on Dec. 7 to discuss a possible statement on Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws.
Sixteen members of the council requested the meeting with a handwritten petition that said a motion would be offered at the meeting "regarding the urgent human rights situation in
Homosexuality in the African nation currently carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. If passed, the proposed bill would extend prison sentences for homosexuals up to and including life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which includes assault against people under the age of 18 and those with disabilities. It also would give Ugandan courts jurisdiction over Ugandan citizens who violate the law "partly outside or partly in
The Executive Council, an elected group of clergy, laity and bishops that carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a), normally meets three to four times a year. The next meeting is set for Feb. 19-22.
However, the Presiding Bishop as president of the council may call a special meeting and a minimum of nine council members may petition in writing for such a meeting under Canon I.4 (4)(a).
The last special meeting occurred April 13, 2005 when then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold called a one-day meeting in Mundelein, Illinois near Chicago to formulate a response to a request of the Anglican Communion's primates that the Episcopal Church voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council until the next meeting of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The minutes of that meeting are here and the response is here.
The 16 members circulated the petition amongst themselves at a Nov. 17-20 gathering in
of the Episcopal Church's so-called interim bodies, the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards (commonly know as CCABs). The members were at the meeting in their roles as council liaisons to the church's standing commissions. All council members who were approached to sign the petition, agreed to do so, according to Sarah Dylan Breuer, council member from Chicago and one of the signers. Massachusetts
The council members' request came on the same day that the Chicago Consultation, a group of lay and ordained Episcopalians, called on Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Henri Orombi of
to speak out against the legislation. None of them has issued any statements thus far. Uganda
also, they quote....
The Anglican Church of Uganda on Nov. 6 issued a press release saying that it is studying the bill and does not yet have an official position on the proposed legislation. However, the release restated the Ugandan church's position that "homosexual behavior is immoral and should not be promoted, supported, or condoned in any way as an 'alternative lifestyle.'"
And AllAfrica.com reported Oct. 29 that the church's provincial secretary told the Monitor newspaper in Kampala, Uganda that jailing homosexuals was preferable to executing them. "If you kill the people, to whom will the message go? We need to have imprisonment for life if the person is still alive," said the Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, according to the website.
Contrast this opinion with that of the dreaded, foreigners who are Christian...
Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations, recently toldENS that "the Episcopal Church, like the Anglican Communion as a whole, is very clear in its support for the human rights of all people, including gay and lesbian persons."
"For us in the Episcopal Church, that means we oppose all abuses of human rights, whether in our own midst or in other parts of the world, and we seek to make that opposition known through our ministry of advocacy," he said.
Is it the same world? Is it the same church?
I belong to only the world. Not the church. I watch. I wait. I will see. God willing, if I am still alive.