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Episcopal rejection of demands looks likely

March 21, 2007|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday requested an urgent meeting with the spiritual head of their denomination, the worldwide Anglican Communion, and appeared to take the first steps toward rejecting several demands made of the American church at a recent gathering of the communion's leadership in Tanzania.

In February, Anglican leaders gave the U.S. branch of the communion until Sept. 30 to state explicitly that it would bar official blessings for same-sex couples and stop consecrating gay bishops. They also called for the creation of a council to oversee a number of conservative American dioceses that have rebelled against the U.S. church's relatively liberal views on homosexuality and biblical teachings.

But the Episcopal bishops, holding a retreat near Houston this week, released a statement late Tuesday saying that establishment of the outside council would be "injurious" to the church and urging its executive council to refuse it. They called the plan "spiritually unsound" and said it could lead to permanent division of the U.S. church.

The bishops said they hoped the Episcopal Church could remain part of the wider communion. But in one of three strongly worded resolutions, they also outlined how the church's efforts to meet the Anglican leaders' demands had been futile so far.

The U.S. church "welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God's truth," the bishops said. "If that means that others reject us ... as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision."

A news conference was scheduled for today.

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rebecca.trounson@latimes.com

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