Archbishop of Canterbury withdraws from gay conference

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 13 2003 12:00 AM ET

As the issue of homosexuality threatens to tear the Anglican Church apart, the archbishop of Canterbury has decided to cancel an appearance at a gay Anglican conference. According to The [London] Daily Telegraph, Archbishop Rowan Williams earlier this year had indicated his willingness to participate in the Halfway to Lambeth Conference, an international event organized by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. But according to reports released Wednesday, Williams withdrew from the conference a few weeks ago.

The conference will feature American Canon Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop-elect in the Episcopal Church, and the Reverend Michael Ingham, a liberal bishop from New Westminster in Canada who authorized the Anglican Church's first blessing of a same-sex union. In a carefully worded message of support for the conference, which is taking place at Manchester University in England in October, Williams said he "very much hopes" it will help to promote "honest and constructive" debate.

Adding to the controversy surrounding the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Church, one of its most senior bishops has joined in the criticism of the appointment of Jeffrey John, a prominent gay rights advocate, as the Church of England's first openly gay bishop. "It is a convenient fiction that it is only evangelicals that are concerned, but it is certainly not the case," the Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt told the Church of England Newspaper.