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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Archbishop of Canterbury laments 'chaos' over women, gays

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has warned Anglican clergy that their debate about female and gay bishops is causing "chaos" that must be resolved if the Church of England is to be unified.

In a key address in London in February, Williams pleaded with the General Synod — the church's parliament — to start listening to each other and stop pursuing a "zero-sum, self-congratulating" course. Otherwise, he said, "the present effect is chaos."

Williams added, in an apparent reference to the Episcopal Church, that "certain decisions made by some provinces impact so heavily on the conscience and mission of others that fellowship is strained or shattered and trust destroyed."

In December, the Episcopal Church — the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion and a full-communion partner of the ELCA — elected a lesbian as an assistant bishop in Los Angeles. The 2004 consecration of a gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire has caused deep dissent within the Anglican Communion.

As head of the Anglican church, Williams is fighting to keep it from flying apart amid disagreements and feuds over gay bishops in the U.S. and female bishops in Britain.

What's needed, the archbishop said, is a set of guidelines for the communion. "We need to look for a resolution that allows some measure of continuing dignity and indeed liberty to all."


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