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archbishop hopes to keep church united

archbishop hopes to keep church united

The spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans says schism over the Bible and homosexuality within the fellowship is not inevitable, and he's trying to "maintain as long as possible the space in which people can have constructive disagreements."

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he doesn't want to be pushed by "either extreme" in the debate as he tries to find a way the Anglican Communion can stay together.

Williams made the comments in a recent interview with Time magazine.

The long-simmering debate among Anglicans over whether gay relationships violate Scripture broke wide open in 2003 when the Episcopal Church, the U.S. Anglican body, consecrated the communion's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Williams said the U.S. wing would have been better off deciding first to approve ordaining clergy in same-sex relationships before consecrating Robinson.

"As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop--I find that bizarre and puzzling," he said.

Williams does not have the direct authority to force a solution on Anglican churches. However, he has decided not to invite Robinson to a once-a-decade global meeting of Anglican bishops, called the Lambeth Conference, which will be held next year.

Williams also did not invite Bishop Martyn Minns, head of a U.S. network of breakaway Episcopal churches formed by the conservative Anglican Church of Nigeria to compete with the American denomination on its home turf.

"I felt we would run the risk of their attendance becoming the subject matter of the conference," Williams said.

Still, some theological conservatives are threatening to boycott the meeting.

"I don't particularly want to be--I wouldn't say blackmailed, but pressured by either extreme on this," Williams said. "I think they need to talk to each other and listen to each other without prejudice." (AP)

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