Bishop Viv provides clarity on the future of diocesan links to Church of Uganda

First published 20th July 2023

The Bishop of Bristol has expressed alarm over the recent Anti-Homosexuality Act signed by the Ugandan President Museveni and the Church of Uganda’s public support for the new law. 

In view of the Archbishop Kaziimba’s recent endorsement of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Vivenne Faull commented: 

“For 50 years, the Diocese of Bristol has nurtured enduring friendships within the Church of Uganda, to reflect the love of Christ across the world through mutual prayer, support and understanding. We have been blessed by these relationships and have every confidence they can be sustained in local communities across Uganda. For the time being the Diocesan Link Committee will cease to meet and the Diocese will be reviewing all institutional links – current and prospective – at the next Bishop’s Council in December. 

“The gospels show us that Jesus did not come into the world to judge humankind, but rather to shepherd others to join in God’s plan for humanity. His harshest condemnations were reserved for those who held up systems of oppression within the political and religious institutions of his day. The scriptures challenge us all as followers of Christ to go and do likewise. 

“I commend the Church of Uganda in its commitment to protecting vulnerable children and adults from abuse but believe that this would be most appropriately addressed through safeguarding legislation. 

“As the Bishop of Bristol, I am compelled to reiterate that the basic dignity and safety of LGBTQ+ human beings in Uganda must not be conflated with theological debates about same-sex marriage in church or matters of abusive behaviour. However, there is a legitimate space for those conversations amongst well-meaning people who can disagree without threat of imprisonment or danger. 

“I welcome the Archbishop of Uganda’s absolute opposition to the imposition of the death penalty. However, it is disappointing that leaders in the Church of Uganda have not been able to stand against decisions made by their government, which endanger the lives of vulnerable people on the grounds of their sexuality. Our response as a diocese to cherish the human relationships we have nurtured in Uganda, whilst reviewing our institutional links with Anglican church in that country is the right response to our Christian calling to love one another, as Christ first loved us.” 

Bishops Vivienne Faull and Dr Lee Rayfield spoke out earlier this year about the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation: 

“We are conscious of the diversity of views held amongst our own clergy and parishioners on same-sex marriage in church; but the Diocese of Bristol will not equivocate on matters of discrimination on account of sexual identity. We condemn the Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament and would celebrate its veto by President Museveni. The gospels tell the story of a saviour who is big-hearted and brave, always pursuing those on the margins of society. The Jesus we worship was not weak or tepid in his convictions, but this never stopped him from extending love and grace to his neighbours, regardless of their vocations, backgrounds or lifestyles. And neither will we.” 

In June, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also criticised the law, saying: 

“The Church of Uganda, like many Anglican provinces, holds to the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and marriage set out in Resolution i.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. That resolution also expressed a commitment to minister pastorally and sensitively to all – regardless of sexual orientation – and to condemn homophobia. I have said to Archbishop Kaziimba that I am unable to see how the Church of Uganda’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Act is consistent with its many statements in support of Resolution i.10.” 

Welby added: 

“Within the Anglican communion we continue to disagree over matters of sexuality, but… supporting such legislation is a fundamental departure from our commitment to uphold the freedom and dignity of all people. There is no justification for any province of the Anglican communion to support such laws.” 

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