Anglican Communion meeting to discuss rift over gay bishop

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February 23 2005 1:00 AM ET

Leaders of the
Anglican Communion, the Anglican Church's global executive
body, are meeting at a Northern Ireland retreat this week to
continue a long-standing painful debate on gay bishops.
Conservative bishops, particularly in Africa,
are furious with the U.S. Episcopal Church for
consecrating an openly gay bishop--the first in the
church's history--and are upset about the blessing of gay
unions in parts of the United States and Canada.
"There will be no cost-free outcome from this,"
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the Church of
England's governing body last week. "To put it as bluntly as
I can, there are no clean breaks in the Body of Christ."
Factions within the Episcopal Church also are
divided over the issue, and leaders of the U.S. church
are incensed with some bishops from other countries
who have offered to act as shepherds for dissident American
congregations. The 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church is
the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. The communion, which
claims 77 million members and has its roots in the
Church of England, turned to Irish archbishop Robin
Eames to seek a solution.
Eames released a report last year that upbraided
the U.S. church for naming the openly gay V. Gene
Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire without fully
consulting other members of the communion. Eames also asked
bishops outside the United States to cease interfering
in Episcopal Church affairs.
Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop of the U.S.
Episcopal Church, has apologized to other primates for
the pain caused by the appointment of Robinson, who
lives with his longtime male partner, but Griswold has not
apologized for the appointment itself.
A recent churchwide report, signed by four
African primates and one from Asia, blamed the crisis
on "the dire state of the Christian faith within the
Episcopal Church" and argued that bishops have influenced
matters outside their territories in the past. The
primates, or leaders of the 38 national churches that
make up the communion, are meeting this week at the
Dromantine Retreat and Conference Center, a Roman Catholic
facility near Newry. The meetings beginning Monday are
closed to the public. (AP)

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