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Communion meeting to discuss rift over gay bishop

Anglican
Communion meeting to discuss rift over gay bishop

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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