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Anglican leaders
seek formal ban on gay clergy

Anglican leaders
seek formal ban on gay clergy

An African-led coalition of conservative Anglican prelates is drafting a formal ban on ordination of gays and other liberal trends threatening to splinter the 77 million-member alliance of churches, the head of the bloc said Wednesday. The proposed statement would actually change little, since nearly all members of the Anglican Communion's so-called Global South already reject gay clergy and such reforms as blessings of same-sex unions.

But such a declaration would send a message of conservative unity to liberal wings of the communion, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, and seek to control the debate as worldwide Anglican leaders struggle to clarify and unify church policies and views. Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola said the proposed statement, or covenant, is being drafted at this week's gathering of 25 bishops, mainly from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, ends Friday.

"We have provisions in the covenant that very clearly state what it means to be an Anglican. The dos and don'ts of an Anglican," said Akinola, the chairman of the Global South grouping, which represents more than two thirds of the Anglican Communion's members.

Liberals and conservatives within the communion have been in deepening conflict for years. It reached a crisis in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Conservatives were also dismayed by the election in June of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first woman to head the Episcopal Church. Some Anglican dioceses in Africa and elsewhere ban the ordination of women.

Akinola and his backers see moves to embrace gays and many other liberal church movements as violations of Scripture. Akinola said that a proposed Global South document would condemn homosexuality and demand that any followers in disagreement must "walk out."

The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, has struggled to prevent the communion from a complete collapse. But he is powerless to stop the battles, which include conservative clergy in the United States and elsewhere shifting their allegiance to the Global South. (AP)

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