Anglicans demand U.S. church change gay policy

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Anglican leaders demanded Monday that the U.S. Episcopal Church unequivocally bar official prayers for gay couples and stop consecrating gay bishops to undo the damage North Americans have caused the Anglican family.

In a statement ending a tense six-day meeting, the leaders said that past pledges by the U.S. denomination on gay unions and consecrations have been so ambiguous that they have failed to fully mend “broken relationships” in the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of Anglicanism, must clarify its position by Sept. 30 or its relations with other Anglicans will remain “damaged at best.”

“This has consequences for the full participation of the church in the life of the communion,” the leaders said.

The meeting in Tanzania was the latest of several summits to try to keep Anglicans unified despite deep divisions over how they should interpret the Bible. The long-simmering debate erupted in 2003 when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Anglican traditionalists believe gay relationships violate Scripture, and they have demanded that the U.S. church adhere to that teaching or face discipline.

Supporters of ordaining gays believe biblical teachings on justice and inclusion should take precedence. They have accused theological conservatives of demanding a conformity of belief among Anglicans that never before existed.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, does not have the direct authority to force a solution on the conflicted parties. He said the requests in the document released Monday “will certainly fall very short of resolving all the disputes but will provide a way of moving forward with dignity.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday February 20, 2007.
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