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Anglican conservatives form group

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on 23 May
Conservatives are challenging the Archbishop of Canterbury's leadership

Conservative Anglicans meeting in Jerusalem will create a global network to combat modern trends in the Church like the ordination of gay clergy.

The group has also decided to break its relationship with the liberal wings of the US and Canadian Churches.

It will operate independently of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but will stay inside the Anglican Communion.

The traditionalists say they are fighting a "false Gospel" and the rift in the Church cannot be patched up.

After five years of trying unsuccessfully to get the American church expelled for its ordination of an openly gay bishop and blessing of same-sex relationships in church, the traditionalists say the international alliance will emphasise a more orthodox reading of the Bible.

Network of allies

The plan is expected to be adopted on Sunday, the final day of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon), where some 1,100 traditionalists - many from developing countries - have been meeting in Jerusalem.

The Anglican Church is being destroyed by false teaching of the Bible on issues such as sexuality
Rev Rod Thomas
Chairman of the Reform group

The group said it would stay inside the Anglican Communion, but with its own statement of theology and council of archbishops.

"A major realignment has occurred and will continue to unfold," the group said in an official statement.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says the existence of a separate shadow Communion is likely to have a profound impact on Anglican churches all over the world - providing disgruntled traditionalists with a powerful network of allies overseas.

The move underlines the alliance's independence from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and makes clear that it will no longer recognise Dr Williams' traditional role as the leader of the world's Anglicans.

READ THE STATEMENT

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Conservatives at the Jerusalem event repeatedly criticised Dr Williams for failing to fully discipline the US Episcopal Church.

Long-standing divisions over how Anglicans should interpret the Bible have been widening steadily ever since the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003.


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