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Anglican leader says row over gay bishop "costly"

Anglican leader says row over gay bishop "costly"

The Anglican rift over gay bishops will be costly no matter how it is resolved, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said Thursday. Ties among national churches have been severely strained by the U.S. Episcopal Church's 2003 decision to elect V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire--who is openly living in a gay relationship--as a bishop. "Part of the cost involved in the repercussions of recent events is that it has weakened, if not destroyed, the sense that we are actually talking the same language within the Anglican Communion," Williams told the Church of England synod, which was considering an official report on the issue. "Not having a common language, a common frame of reference, has been one of the casualties of recent events, and there is every indication that that is not going to get better in a hurry," he said. Robinson's elevation has roiled the 77-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, which has its roots in the Church of England. The issue has pitted liberals against conservatives within the Episcopal Church, and some African bishops have cut off contact with the U.S. church. Leaders of the national churches plan to meet next week in Northern Ireland to consider a report prepared by Irish Archbishop Robin Eames. That report criticized the Episcopal Church for going ahead with Robinson's ordination without consulting other parts of the denomination, but it also criticized conservative bishops from Africa and elsewhere who have offered to serve as bishops to disenchanted Episcopalians. Williams endorsed the Eames report, but told the synod: "There will be no cost-free outcome from this...to put it as bluntly as I can, there are no clean breaks in the Body of Christ." Williams said the report "identified certain actions as having made our common language, our common discourse almost impossibly difficult," though he did not identify any particular actions. "There are consequences in hurt, misunderstanding, rupture and damage," Williams said. "It does us no good to pretend that the cost is not real." The Anglican Communion consists of 38 national churches which are "in communion" with the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Church of England.

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