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Gay controversy means no new Episcopal bishops for a year

Gay controversy means no new Episcopal bishops for a year

Episcopal bishops have agreed to withhold approval of any new bishops for a year, saying "extraordinary action" was needed to ease tensions in the global Anglican Communion over the American church's consecration of an openly gay priest to lead the New Hampshire diocese. Meeting this week in Camp Allen, Texas, the church leaders also promised not to authorize "public rites" for blessing same-sex couples for at least a year, although some Episcopal clergy have held such ceremonies in private and the wording of the bishops' pledge left open the possibility individual priests could continue to do so. "This extraordinary moment in our common life offers the opportunity for extraordinary action," the bishops said in a statement released Tuesday night. Episcopal leaders are attempting to repair badly frayed ties with Anglican leaders around the world over the November 2003 consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who lives with his longtime male partner. Most Anglican archbishops believe the Bible bans gay sex. In meetings last fall and last month, these leaders--called primates--requested that Episcopal bishops impose temporary bans on blessings of same-sex unions and the ordination of unmarried bishops who are not celibate. The primates have also asked the Episcopal Church to temporarily withdraw its representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council, a major body within the Communion. The U.S. bishops said they did not have the authority to order the delegates not to attend, but instead asked another Episcopal panel with elected representatives to take up the matter. The Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. branch of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, has apologized repeatedly for the rifts created by Robinson's consecration. However, its leaders have not expressed regret for electing him, as some conservatives have demanded. In Texas, the bishops once again apologized for failing to fully consult with other Anglican provinces before moving ahead with Robinson's consecration. "We express our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions," they said. (AP)

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