(Kenyan worshipers arrive at the All Saints Cathedral Church for a evening mass at the capital Nairobi, November 3, 2003. REUTERS/Anthony Niguna)

Senior African Anglican leaders have lined up to denounce the Church of England’s decision to allow celibate gay bishops, warning it would only widen the divisions within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, effectively the largest province in the Communion, said such reforms “could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.”

His comments on Wednesday followed similar denunciations on Monday by Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, who is also head of the Gafcon group of traditionalist Anglican primates opposed to gay clergy.

The global Communion of 80 million Anglicans split deeply after Canada’s Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002 and the Episcopal Church, its United States branch, ordained Gene Robinson as its first gay bishop in 2003.