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Anglican Leaders Warn of Rift Over Gay Bishop

BY Admin  October 16, 2003 at 3:50 PM EST

A two-day emergency meeting was held to discuss the church’s divided views on homosexual priests. Though the 37 church leaders urged members not to react prematurely to their statement, they admitted that some parts of the church could disassociate from the entire U.S. Episcopal Church, which voted in August to approve Bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson, a priest who lives with his gay partner. Clergy and laypeople in the diocese of New Hampshire overwhelmingly elected Robinson in June.

In addition to the statement released Thursday, the group announced Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will conduct a study on the divisions and report back within a year.

“If this consecration proceeds, we recognize that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the communion itself will be put in jeopardy,” the Anglican primates’ statement said.

“In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognized by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of communion with the Episcopal Church. This will tear the fabric of our communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church,” according to the statement.

The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold intends to participate in Robinson’s consecration, scheduled for Nov. 2.

“I stand fully behind the careful process used by the diocese of New Hampshire to discern who it wished to have as its next bishop, and I also fully respect the decision of the General Convention and the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church,” Griswold said.

The American Anglican Council, a group of American conservatives, were hoping today’s meeting would lead to the expulsion of the Episcopal Church, and that they would be recognized as the true Anglican body in the United States, the AP reported.