CAIRO (Christian Examiner) – Just like their Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ who are anticipating a wave of persecution in their homeland, the Anglican archbishop of Cairo (who is also the primate of Jerusalem) has told the faithful in the Global South they must be prepared and "ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Christ."
Archbishop Mouneer Anis of Cairo told a group of more than 100 bishops meeting in Cairo Oct. 3-8 that they are increasingly like to face persecution in the form of terrorism, infringements on religious liberty and religious-based violence, World Watch Monitor reported.
Anis said Christians in the Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Southern Africa, West Africa, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia are particularly vulnerable.
But the threats won't come solely from the outside. Anis said the churches of the Global South should be aware of the "ideological slavery" from the West that threatens the church.
"Some western churches and organization use their wealth and influence to push their own agendas in the Global South," Anis said. "We need to be aware of this and resist all kinds of slavery, whether financial or ideological."
If they do not resist, he said the churches will face "cultural defeat and captivity."
By that, Anis was referring to the shifts in the theology of churches in the West as they have become increasingly accepting of homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the redefinition of family.
One archbishop, Stephen Oo of Myanmar, said the Anglican Communion was being covered "by darkness due to Satanic power exercised through the decisions of men."
To counter the impulses of the West, Anglican Church leaders issued an 11-point statement reaffirming the church's teaching on homosexuality.
In point seven of the statement, church leaders affirmed that "sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex is contrary to God's design, is offensive to him and reflects a disordering of God's purposes for complementarity in sexual relations."
"Like all other morally wrong behavior, same-sex unions alienate us from God and are liable to incur God's judgment. We hold these convictions based on the clear teaching of Scripture. We hold them not in order to demean or victimize those who experience same-sex attractions, but in order to guard the sound doctrine of our faith, which also informs our pastoral approach for helping those who struggle with same-sex impulses, attractions and temptations."
Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany called the full statement "the most pastorally sensitive statement on human sexuality" he had ever read.
Another, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, said the statement expresses the group's "collective frustration, hope, and counsel to the Anglican Communion leadership on the state of our communion. It shows our faith, determination, and effort to restore this communion to wholeness. And it shows we are getting ready for the possibility of further deterioration, that we should be able to speak and act decisively."
Anis also referenced challenges brought by the "false teaching" of the prosperity gospel and non-Christian groups such as the Church of Jesus Christ-Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah's Witnesses.
"This is a critical moment in the life of the Anglican Church," Anis told the Anglican Church leaders, as well as some representatives from other churches. "We pray that as we strive for both truth and unity, our efforts will be 'found faithful' by God Almighty."