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Episcopal bishops try to avoid split

The leaders are drafting a response to Anglican pressure over gay issues.

September 25, 2007|From the Associated Press

new orleans -- Episcopal bishops, under pressure from Anglicans to ease their support for gays, said Monday that they were crafting a straightforward statement that reflects their deep desire to remain in the global Anglican fellowship.

Anglican leaders have set a Sept. 30 deadline for the Americans to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-gender couples.

Episcopal bishops have dedicated their meeting here to crafting a response.

A preliminary draft statement released in the morning was considered too weak and was quickly scrapped.

A vote on a statement was expected in the full House of Bishops today, the final day of the meeting.

"We are working very closely with one another whether we are on the conservative end of the church, the liberal or the moderate middle," said the liberal bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno. "We're looking to make as full, clear and complete a response as we can."

The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Bishop Ed Little of northern Indiana, a theological conservative who wants to stay in the Episcopal Church, said that lay and clergy leaders from the Anglican Communion who have been attending the six-day meeting were pushing bishops to make concessions.

"They've all said in essence, for the good of the church, for the good of the communion, you have to take a step back," Little said.

The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. It is the third-largest Christian body in the world, behind the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Most overseas Anglicans are traditionalists who believe the Bible bars gay relationships.

But liberals are a majority in the 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church. They emphasize biblical teaching on justice and tolerance.

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