talks with the archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal leaders
are confronting demands that they roll back their support
for gay priests or lose their place in the world
Church is the Anglican body in the United States and has a
more liberal view of Scripture than most Anglicans overseas.
Tensions over Bible interpretation erupted in 2003,
when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay
bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, suggested
Thursday that Episcopalians show greater concern about the
impact of their decisions on the wider Anglican
Communion, according to Canon Jim Naughton, spokesman
for the Diocese of Washington.
Episcopal bishops ''how far they were willing to go,''
Naughton said, to preserve the communion, a
77-million-member group of churches with roots in the
Church of England.
have set a September 30 deadline for the Americans to
pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or
approve an official prayer service for gay couples. If
Episcopal leaders say no, they could lose their full
membership in the communion.
''He made it
clear that he believed the Episcopal Church had acted
preemptively in consecrating Bishop Robinson,'' Naughton
have the direct authority to force concessions from the
2.2 million-member Episcopal Church, so he has been
struggling to keep the communion from breaking apart.
Episcopal bishops implored him to attend their meeting
here so they could explain their views in person.
Rosenthal, a spokesman for Williams, said that in the first
few hours of the meeting alone, about 25 of the more than
100 participating bishops had a chance to discuss
their concerns directly with the archbishop.
Williams, 57, was
enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury in 2003 with a
record of some support for gay priests. But as leader of the
entire communion, he has operated with the
understanding that most Anglicans believe the Bible
bars gay relationships.
He recently told
Time magazine he found it ''bizarre and
puzzling'' that Episcopalians consecrated a bishop who is
''living in a relationship not theologically officially
approved by the church.''
Williams had his
final session with the bishops Friday morning before
leaving for an overseas trip. Episcopal leaders will
continue to meet through Tuesday to draft a statement
to the Anglican Communion. (Rachel Zoll, AP)