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The spiritual leader of the world Anglican Communion says the struggle to keep the fellowship unified despite deep divisions over the Bible and sexuality is hampered by the lack of real theological discussion on the issues.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said addressing those Scriptural differences is made more difficult ''by one group forging ahead with change in discipline and practice and the other insistently treating the question as the sole definitive marker of orthodoxy.''
Williams made the comments Monday at a Church of England meeting, one week after Anglican leaders gave the U.S. Episcopal Church an ultimatum: The Americans must promise by September 30 to not consecrate another gay bishop or authorize official prayers for gay couples--or they will face a reduced role in the Anglican family.
The Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Williams lamented that Anglican leaders had to spend most of their Tanzania assembly discussing sexuality when there are so many more pressing issues to address, such as missions to help the poor and sick. ''The public perception, as we've been reminded by several commentators in the last week or so, is that we are a church obsessed with sex,'' Williams said.
Williams said the work of the communion will be severely hampered if it breaks apart.
''The persistence of the communion as an organically international and intercultural unity whose aim is to glorify Jesus Christ and to work for his kingdom is for me and others just as much a matter of deep personal and theological conviction as any other principle,'' Williams said. (AP)