at odds over homosexuality ended a private meeting on
Wednesday saying they had failed to reach agreement over how
to handle dioceses that reject the authority of the
church's incoming national leader. The 11 bishops said
they "were unable to come to common agreement on the
way forward," although they recognized the need to
accommodate the dissenting dioceses.
"The level of
openness and charity in this conference allows us to
pledge to hold one another in prayer and to work together
until we have reached the solution God holds out for
us," the bishops said in a statement. They did not say
whether another meeting was planned.
Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the
world Anglican Communion, had asked the U.S. bishops to hold
the talks. He is struggling to keep the Anglican
family unified despite deep rifts over whether
same-sex partnerships violate Scripture. The Episcopal
Church is the U.S. arm of the Anglican fellowship.
In 2003 the
American denomination caused an uproar when it consecrated
its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New
Hampshire. This past June the divisions intensified
when the Episcopal General Convention elected a new
presiding bishop who approves of ordaining partnered gays.
Nevada bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to
lead the church nationally, will be installed November
conservative dioceses are asking Williams for alternative
oversight from an Anglican leader who shares their
traditional views. The dioceses are Dallas; Central
Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; Fresno, Calif.;
Pittsburgh; Springfield, Ill.; and South Carolina.
Among the bishops
who participated in the three-day talks were Jefferts
Schori and Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan, leader of a
network of Episcopal conservatives who are considering
breaking away from the denomination. Williams also
sent a representative.
a minority in the 2.3 million-member U.S. church, but
a split could still cause extensive damage. Episcopal
leaders fear a break will prompt expensive and bitter
legal fights over parishes that take their property
with them when they leave.
Williams has proposed giving Anglican churches with
nontraditional views on issues such as gay clergy a
lesser role in the communion under a two-tiered system
meant to prevent a schism. (AP)