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U.S. Episcopal leaders withdraw from Anglican conference over gay row

U.S. Episcopal leaders withdraw from Anglican conference over gay row

Leaders of America's Episcopal Church decided Wednesday to withdraw delegates from an upcoming conference of the international Anglican Communion, a move that leaders of other Anglican churches had requested because of a running dispute over homosexuality. The Episcopalians' Executive Council held an unannounced special session in Mundelein, Ill., to answer a February appeal from 35 top leaders of world Anglicanism that no U.S. delegates participate in a June meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. The withdrawal request was "a weighty matter," the Episcopal leaders said. The 35 world leaders made the appeal as a partial response to conservative demands that the Episcopal Church be suspended from full participation in the Anglican Communion because it consecrated Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, and has allowed blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. Presiding bishop Frank Griswold and the Very Reverend George Werner of the church's House of Deputies said in a statement that Executive Council members unanimously desire "to do all that we can to preserve and further the bonds of affection" between Anglican churches and are open to "the concerns and beliefs of others." As the 35 leaders had proposed, the Episcopal Church will provide the June meeting with a formal theological explanation of its pro-gay policies. Also, U.S. representatives will be present--but only to observe discussions and "be available for conversation and consultation," the statement said. The Anglican Church of Canada, which has also allowed same-sex blessings, was similarly asked to withdraw its delegates. The Canadians' national council will decide what to do in May. (AP)

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