Bishops in the Anglican Communion gave the U.S. Episcopal Church a Sept. 30 deadline to declare “unequivocally” it will prohibit openly gay bishops and not authorize same-sex blessings.
“If they agree to stop, there will be a huge celebration of the [Anglican] communion,” said Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria following a tense five-day meeting in Tanzania of Anglican leaders from around the world. “But if they choose to continue with it as a way of life, then they will be told to walk away from the communion.”
The standoff was triggered in 2003 after the Episcopal Church consecrated V. Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as a bishop in New Hampshire. Earlier in the meeting, seven archbishops refused to take communion with Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, who supports ordaining gays and lesbians and blessing same-sex unions.
Supporters of the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church said they were angered by the bishops’ demand. “It’s a very challenging time for gay and lesbian people to believe that the Episcopal Church has room for them,” said Susan Russell, president of Integrity, the Episcopal Church’s principal advocacy group for gays and lesbians.
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