Welby says the Commonwealth is “blessing to the world”
The Primate of the Church of Nigeria has recommended his country withdraw from the British Commonwealth in response to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s gay advocacy. At a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Governments in London on 17 April 2018, Mrs. May said she “deeply” regrets the introduction by Britain across its empire of sodomy laws.
“Discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalizing same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls,” she said in a speech at the Commonwealth summit.
“I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country,” added May. “They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. As the U.K.’s prime minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.”
Over half of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states, including Nigeria, criminalize homosexual acts. The British government and some western NGOs have pressed African, Caribbean and Asian members of the Commonwealth to legalize gay marriage and decriminalize homosexual acts — making it a condition of aid.
Church leaders in Nigeria reacted swiftly to the prime minister’s call. Muslim leaders rejected the call out of hand, while the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, told The Guardian of Lagos that Nigerians across the religious and cultural spectrum viewed homosexual acts as an “abomination”.
“Theresa May can say whatever she likes, but I hope that our own leaders know what is good for our people. I think she should also think of releasing the looted funds in their banks if she really wants to help us. The era of imperialism is over. I don’t know whether the Commonwealth has now become a legislative assembly. It is not a place where you legislate for everybody. We should let her know that we do not want it,” Cardinal Onaiykan said.
Archbishop Okoh urged President Muhammadu Buhari to pull Nigeria out of the Commonwealth, echoing the cardinal’s sentiment that Mrs. May had no business imposing her moral views on Africa.
At a sermon preached at Westminster Abbey the day before the summit opened, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, has said that the Commonwealth of Nations was a “blessing to the world”.
“The Commonwealth will last, and will find its identity more and more deeply even than today. Its future will be a blessing to the world – rich and poor, secure and threatened – if it is a body that loves the poor, brings home the refugee, cares for the stranger, eliminates unjust gain and corruption, guards the environment, and does so amidst diversity held together by a common humanity, and a vision of hope.