Tuesday, June 20, 2006

US Church defiant on gay bishops


US Church defiant on gay bishops
Members of the US Episcopal Church have rejected a demand from the worldwide Anglican Church that they stop appointing gay bishops.
Correspondents say the decision by the Church's House of Deputies could lead to a permanent split within the world Anglican communion.

The US Church attracted the ire of conservative Anglicans by appointing gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

The issue may still be revived before the end of the conference on Wednesday.

The House of Bishops may try to return to the question of a ban but the House of Deputies - which voted against the move by nearly a two-thirds majority - would have to go back on its decision for it to pass.

Two days ago the conference took a further radical step by electing a female leader.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made clear on Monday that she believes homosexuality is not a sin.

A majority of the Church's House of Deputies - comprising clergy and lay members - on Tuesday rejected a resolution to "refrain from" nominating gay bishops or developing rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

'Difficult choices'

International church leaders warned before the vote that the main body of the 77-million member Anglican communion could part from the US Church if it did not impose a moratorium until Anglicans worldwide could agree a consensus on the issue.

Earlier on Tuesday the Episcopal convention passed an apology for the ordination of Gene Robinson, as requested by Anglican counterparts, but watered down its reference to "breaching the proper constraints" to "straining the bonds of affection".

Many conservative Anglican churches, especially in Africa and Asia, have already broken ties with the US Church over Gene Robinson's elevation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the religious head of the Anglican Church, warned that the communion was now facing "exceptionally difficult choices" and has said he fears a permanent rift.

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