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BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: The presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church says the worldwide Anglican Communion is holding together despite deep divisions over homosexuality interpretation of Scripture. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori returned home from England this week after attending the once-every-10-year Lambeth meeting of Anglican bishops. In a webcast Thursday (August 7), she said the diverse group of bishops built a great understanding of one another.
Presiding Bishop KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI (U.S Episcopal Church): We got quite quickly into very significant and deep conversations. We certainly didn’t all agree with each other about various issues, but we listened respectfully.
ABERNETHY: About 650 Anglican bishops from around the world were at the meeting, but more than 230 others stayed away. The bishops didn’t vote on any resolutions, but instead held a series of small group discussions about the many issues that divide them. Our managing editor Kim Lawton covered the meeting. Kim, welcome home. What happened, or perhaps, didn’t happen?
KIM LAWTON (Managing Editor, RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY): Well, I think the big news from the meeting was that there wasn’t any big news. A lot of people feared that there might be some kind of an actual split at this meeting. That didn’t happen. About a third of the bishops boycotted. That did have an impact, but there wasn’t any big explosion. They’re still hanging together, but this sort of uneasy stalemate continues.
ABERNETHY: And what does the stalemate mean for the typical American Episcopal parish?
LAWTON: Well, not much in the short term. There are — the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion is upset that the U.S. elected a gay bishop, that same-sex blessings occur inside some Episcopal churches. The Communion would like that to stop. But the bishops that are doing that in the U.S. say, “We’re not going to stop.” The majority of the Communion is not happy that some Americans have said, “We don’t want to be part of the Episcopal Church,” and so they’re affiliating with these African churches in some cases. The Communion says well, we don’t like that, that isn’t done in the Anglican Communion. That should stop. But it probably will continue. And so the question is, can all of this still happen within one Anglican umbrella?
ABERNETHY: You had the feeling, I think, one had the feeling that the American Episcopal Church was very much in the minority. You felt that sense of it’s being in a minority, at least I did from here.
LAWTON: Well, indeed, the U.S. — and there are a few other member churches, Canada, some places in England that would agree with the U.S. But by and large many of the members are concerned with what’s happening here in the U.S.
ABERNETHY: Kim Lawton, many thanks.