Episcopal bishops request meeting over same-sex union issues

By Catholic News Service

NAVASOTA, Texas — The bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church have requested a meeting with the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion to discuss ways of avoiding a rupture with other Anglican churches over the ordination of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions.

The issues have divided the U.S. church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and alienated the U.S. church leadership from the bishops of many other Anglican churches.

The meeting request was sent to Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, the titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Episcopal officials said that as of March 27 the archbishop had not responded to the request.

A March 20 resolution by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops expressed a desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion but said that the bishops cannot accept Anglican calls to end the same-sex blessings or to adopt a policy of not electing openly gay people as bishops.

“There is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the archbishop of Canterbury” and his top advisers, said a resolution approved at the House of Bishops’ meeting in Navasota.

Another resolution expressed “our passionate desire” to remain in the Anglican Communion.

The resolutions came after a February meeting in Tanzania of the heads of Anglican churches from around the world.

A Feb. 19 communique by the Anglican leaders warned of a “fracture” in the U.S. church and urged it to abide by previous Anglican statements that define marriage as heterosexual and that reject the blessing of same-sex unions.

The Anglican leaders told the U.S. Episcopal bishops to pledge not to authorize blessings of same-sex unions and to affirm that any candidate for bishop who is living in a same-sex relationship “shall not receive the necessary consent (for ordination) unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the communion.”

The Feb. 19 communique noted that the actions by the U.S. church have caused division among U.S. Episcopalians.

The Episcopal Church has no policy regarding the blessings of same-sex unions, but it is permitted in some dioceses.

In 2003 the Episcopal Church ordained Bishop Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire even though he was living in an openly gay relationship.

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