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U.S. Church Says Gay Issue Should Not Split Anglicans

June 22, 2005|From Associated Press

NOTTINGHAM, England — The U.S. Episcopal Church on Tuesday affirmed its support for gay clergy and appealed for the contentious issue not to split the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion.

"We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before," the church said in a document prepared for the Anglican Consultative Council. It affirmed "the eligibility for ordination of those in covenanted same-sex unions."

Some Anglican conservatives said that stance made a schism inevitable.

"There's going to be a divorce," said the Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the traditionalist American Anglican Council. "The question is whether it's going to be a strictly North American divorce or whether it's going to be communion-wide."

In February, leaders of the 38 national Anglican churches chastised the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, asking them not to attend this week's meeting in Nottingham of the Consultative Council, an international body of bishops, priests and lay people that meets every three years.

But Anglican leaders also asked the North American churches to send representatives to explain the theological reasoning behind the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, and the decision by Canada's New Westminster diocese to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions. Church policy declares gay sex "incompatible with Scripture" and opposes gay ordinations and same-sex blessings.

The U.S. church in a 130-page document argued that "members of the Episcopal Church have discerned holiness in same-sex relationships and have come to support the blessing of such unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions."

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