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UGANDA: Archbishop Orombi Nixes Coming to West Texas Consecration


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

SAN ANTONIO, TX--The new Primate of Uganda, the Rt. Rev. Henry Orombi who was to have preached at the consecration of the new Bishop Coadjutor of West Texas, Gary Lillibridge on February 21, has written a letter saying he will not now come.

A statement from the Rt. Rev. James E. Folts, Bishop of West Texas, said, "my primary responsibility must be toward advancing the work of the Church in my province and in sub-Sahara Africa."

Bishop Folts expressed "mutual affection and a mutual commitment to the ongoing life of the Anglican Communion."

"Together the Diocese of West Texas and the Diocese of Nebbi, Uganda, of which Bishop Orombi was the head until his elevation to the role of archbishop on January 25, have accomplished incredible good work for the people of both of our dioceses, including the building of a Women's Center in Nebbi for the education of women," said Folts.

However, Virtuosity has learned that the Uganda Primate was to have preached with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold presiding. But events in The Episcopal led to Griswold being uninvited to the African Primate's own consecration in January because of the Presiding Bishop's participation in the consecration of an avowed homosexual V. Gene Robinson to the episcopacy in New Hampshire.

Two orthodox episcopal bishops attended instead.

In a letter Virtuosity received from an orthodox parishioner in the diocese, it was stated that there were possibly other reasons why the Ugandan Archbishop would not attend.

The Ugandan Primate had let it be known that he would not be seen processing with Griswold at the consecration nor would the African leader receive Holy Communion from the American leader. Another source said the African leader would not attend a dinner following the consecration because of Griswold's presence.

A priest in the diocese told Virtuosity that he heard that Orombi got much mail insisting that he not come. "The plan, had he come, was for separate processions, no photo ops, Orombi was to preach, Griswold to consecrate and no sharing of Communion. And if there were to be conversations, they would occur at Orombi's initiative. We were not interested in a "peace" meeting, we just wanted Orombi here. We will continue our informal relation with Uganda", he told Virtuosity.

Had he come it would have been the single biggest snub by an African Primate of an American Presiding Bishop to occur on American soil, raising the specter that it is only a matter of when not if there will be a formal breaking of ties by the CAPA bishops, with implications for the future of the Anglican Communion.

According to Marjorie George the diocesan Director of Communications, the Diocese of West Texas has had a long-standing relationship with the Diocese of Nebbi when Archbishop Orombi was the bishop there.

"He had been invited long before be became archbishop," she told Virtuosity. She had no comment on any other reason why the Archbishop suddenly cancelled

The Diocese of West Texas has 30,000 Episcopalians in 92 congregations.


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