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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
US Church vote highlights tension
Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Katharine Jefferts Schori has made church history with her election
Tensions within the Anglican Communion have been heightened by the election of a woman as head of its US branch.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, a liberal who supports same-sex unions, won a vote among her fellow bishops at an Episcopal Church convention on Sunday.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams praised her, but warned the move could highlight "continuing issues" between branches of the worldwide communion.

Most have resisted elevating women bishops and oppose homosexuality.

Bishop Schori's election was hailed by many US Episcopalians as a victory for women.

However, it deepens the split between liberals and conservatives among the world's 77-million-strong Anglican Communion, analysts say.

Born 1954 in Pensacola, Florida
Consecrated Bishop of Nevada in 2001
Supporter of ordination of gay bishops

Three years ago the ordination of openly gay US bishop Gene Robinson led some conservative sections of the communion to threaten to break away.

Church of England Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said schism was now a serious risk.

"Nobody wants a split but if you think you have virtually two religions in a single Church, something has got to give sometime," he told The Daily Telegraph.


Church Times editor Paul Handley told Reuters news agency: "Having a woman primate is an exciting complication.

"The problem is her views. She is quite permissive towards local churches giving blessing to same-sex couples and she supported the ordination of Robinson."

In his statement on Monday, Dr Williams said Schori was taking up "a deeply demanding position at a critical time".

He added: "We are continuing to pray for the general convention of the Episcopal Church as it confronts a series of exceptionally difficult choices."

The convention in Ohio is under pressure to "repent" of its decision to ordain Gene Robinson, to ban future openly gay bishops and to end the blessing of same-sex unions in church services.

A compromise is being considered to offer repentance only for the effect on the wider Church.

Woman heads Anglican church: Your views
19 Jun 06 |  Have Your Say
Female chief makes Church history
18 Jun 06 |  Americas
Conservatives warn of Church split
09 Oct 03 |  Americas
African divide over gay bishop
08 Sep 03 |  Africa
US church backs gay bishop
01 Aug 03 |  Americas
Q&A: The Anglican Communion
06 Aug 03 |  In Depth

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