Aglicans seek moratoriumAnglican leaders urged their churches Thursday to maintain a 5-year-old moratorium on consecrating another openly gay bishop and developing prayers for same-sex unions, as they try to restore unity in their fractured fellowship.
NEW YORK (AP) — Anglican leaders urged their churches Thursday to maintain a 5-year-old moratorium on consecrating another openly gay bishop and developing prayers for same-sex unions, as they try to restore unity in their fractured fellowship.
An Anglican advisory panel also raised deep concerns about a North American province sought by theological conservatives to rival the Episcopal Church.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, will arrange professional mediation for all leaders involved in the North American conflict, leaders said.
“If a way forward is to be found and mutual trust to be re-established, it is imperative that further aggravation and acts which cause offense, misunderstanding or hostility cease,” the Anglican leaders said Thursday.
The statements were released as the Anglican archbishops, or primates, ended a five-day private meeting in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria.
The 77 million-member Anglican Communion has been splintering since 2003, when the Episcopal Church — the Anglican body in the U.S. — consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Robinson’s election intensified a long-running debate over what Anglicans should believe about salvation, sexuality and other issues.
Anglican leaders requested the moratoria in 2004, in a document known as the Windsor Report, and have been meeting regularly ever since to avoid a permanent break. Williams formed a six-member committee to advise him on how the communion can move forward. The group presented their recommendations at the Alexandria gathering.
The report painted a largely grim picture of the state of the fellowship, saying “positions and arguments are becoming more extreme” and rivals are engaging in “fear-mongering, deliberate distortion and demonizing.”
Four conservative U.S. dioceses and dozens of individual Episcopal parishes have voted to leave the national denomination since 2003. Many have affiliated with like-minded overseas Anglican leaders. The Anglican Church of Nigeria started a Convocation of Anglicans in North America, including breakaway Episcopal churches in Virginia.
The Anglican advisory panel said such overseas interventions in U.S. territory should stop and they urged an end to lawsuits over who gets to keep Episcopal property.
Of the North American province, the panel said it “foresees formidable problems in the way ahead,” saying it could become a “haven for discontented groups” and formalize a schism.
The top governing body of the Episcopal Church, the General Convention, will take up the moratoria at its July meeting in Anaheim, Calif. Several Episcopal dioceses have been developing prayers to bless same-sex couples despite the requested ban.