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U.S. Anglican
leader met with boycott

U.S. Anglican
leader met with boycott


Seven conservative Anglican leaders refused Friday to take Holy Communion with the pro-gay head of the U.S. branch of the church.

Seven conservative Anglican leaders refused Friday to take Holy Communion with the head of the U.S. branch of the church, who supports ordaining gays and blessing same-sex unions, in the latest sign the fellowship could be headed for a split. The boycott came at the six-day meeting of leaders of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

''We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding,'' the archbishops said in a posting on the Church of Nigeria Web site.

The primates, or Anglican leaders, all belong to a group known as the Global South--theologically conservative bishops from Africa and elsewhere who have joined forces to expand their influence within the communion and counter liberal-leaning Anglicans.

''This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion,'' said the statement from the group.

Splits between Anglicans have been growing for years but reached a crisis in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The problems mounted last year with the election of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports ordaining gays and is the first female leader of the U.S. church.

Supporters of ordaining gays believe the Bible's social justice teachings take precedence over its view of sexuality. Most Anglicans outside the United States believe gay relationships are sinful.

There is no formal procedure for expulsion from the Anglican Communion.

Conservative Anglicans have formed a rival network in the United States under the leadership of Anglican archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the acceptance of gay relationships a ''satanic attack'' on the church. Akinola was among those who refused to have Holy Communion with Jefferts Schori.

The Anglican Communion is the world's third-largest Christian body, behind the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches. The Anglican fellowship was founded in the 16th century by King Henry VIII and spread worldwide by the British Empire. (Elizabeth A. Kennedy, AP)

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