The Anglican hierarchy urged US church leaders on Monday to apologise for consecrating a gay bishop.
A report published today, designed to pull the 70-million-strong Anglican Communion out of its biggest crisis for a decade, also called for a moratorium on same-sex marriages.
The crisis erupted last year when Canadian Anglicans voted to approve same-sex marriages and US Anglicans consecrated Gene Robinson, a homosexual divorced father of two, as a bishop. Both moves flouted official church policy and drew strong protest from conservatives.
Do you agree with the commission report? Can the Anglican Church remain united? How should the crisis be tackled? What are your views on gay clergy?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
The church has skirted the massive cultural gap in its congregation for decades but homosexuality is merely a battleground issue in a deeply schismatic organisation. The report tries to paper over these differences, but the fact is that the Church should split and leaders in different countries should follow their own consciences.
Eric Westerman, London
Yes I agree with the report! My heart was broken when Gene Robinson was consecrated. They ask us to live by what the Bible teaches. But he doesn't have too. He should resign immediately and apologise to all of us who are believers. The ones who appointed him should be drummed out of the church.
Janet, Iowa, USA
As an atheist, I find it quite astounding that an organisation that basis its whole ethos on the principle of love and forgiveness can be so openly hostile to a group of people that society in general now readily accepts. In these times of falling Church attendance, such hypocrisy does nothing to promote the Anglican Church. Although I do not believe in God, I do believe in the promotion of love and forgiveness and I have always felt that the Anglican Church played an important role in promoting such values around the world. I fear the effectiveness of that role will be severely diminished if this homophobic attitude is not sorted out quickly.
Tim, Herne, UK
The Anglican Communion has again sought to chart a route between acceptance of diversity and rigorous legalism. It is a pity that the trenchant supporters of homosexual priests and bishops cannot accept that the Church must maintain some standards or it risks having no meaning. It does not condemn homosexuality per se (unlike some Churches), but practising homosexuality is inconsistent with holding office in the Church. Since most of the world regards sodomy as a sin, this attitude is hardly surprising.
Dr Noel Cox, New Zealand
The outcome of the debate within the Anglican Church about the role of gay bishops is almost as important to non-members of that church as to its own members. The Anglican Church can be a light to the world in demonstrating not just tolerance of openly homosexual members, but in valuing the leadership contribution they can make to the Church and the world. Christianity calls all its members to be witnesses to the message of love brought to the world by Jesus - how much more emphatic that witness when it comes from a member of a group long used to turning the other cheek.
Aidan, California, USA
No it can't. And yes, God loves everyone, even people that commit adultery, fornication and other sins of immorality. But could this kind of people expect to make it into heaven. I don't think so. God loves sinners but He hates sin. Ultimately sin and sinners will be obliterated, despite God still loving them. I would expect the Church to be no less, accept and love everyone, but also rebuke and admonish people that are in sin. If the Church can't do this, then it has lost its purpose, and it has become not more than a social club.
Adam Schott, Sydney, Australia
As a member of the Anglican Church, I am unsure of where I stand. My view is love the person, hate the sin. We are all called to forgive, else how can we be forgiven? As has been said, the Old Testament instructs us to stone people to death, I can't see many Anglicans doing this. So if people want to 'religiously' stick to the scriptures, will they pick up the stones?
An active and openly Gay Christian Bishop? It proves that the Anglican Communion has lost its way. Unfortunately this will make the reconciliation of the Anglican Communion now virtually impossible with The Church in Rome, but probably that is what these radical activists always wanted: divide and conquer is the Devil's motto.
Mario Izippon, Toronto, Canada
The Anglican Communion calls itself a communion dedicated to the teachings of Christ and his mission of reconciliation and peace on the earth. Show me where, in the Bible, Christ himself (as opposed to St. Paul) tells us to exclude and shun members of society based upon sexuality and gender. It simply does not exist.
Jeff, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA
Leviticus 18:22 "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." How much clearer does this need to be?
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK
In Matthew 15:19-20a he says "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'". In the context of the Old Testament teaching that Jesus was fully conversant and compliant with (see Matthew 5:18), "sexual immorality" most definitely included homosexual acts (see Leviticus 18:22). Of course, Jesus's list of sins in the above passage condemns us all, which is why we need his forgiveness.
Giles Chanot, Bristol
Christianity is a way of life not a religion. Our Model is Jesus Christ, our guide is the Bible. We should love Gay people, but hate the sin. Our conduct and the goodness of God will set them free, if we try
Yem O, Warrington
The Roman Catholic Church has been ordaining practising homosexual priests and bishops for centuries - although no one admits it. Maybe the Anglicans have got it right by ordaining an openly gay man as a bishop. It is much healthier and more honest when we admit what's really going on in the churches - whether Anglican or Roman.
Mark, Rome, Italy
Mark says: "The Roman Catholic Church has been ordaining practising homosexual priests and bishops for centuries " - Where on earth do you get that from? I'm sure some may have practised (hetero and homo) before becoming priests but then they take a vow of celibacy - this applies to heterosexual and homosexual priests. Sure there are some that break their vows but not with the sanction of the Church. This is the difference with Robinson who shows no sign of giving up his homosexual lifestyle, which is incompatible with his 'job' (which is really a vocation not a job) as a bishop.
The real church of the Lord Jesus Christ will remain united.
Taiwo Akinseye, London
Why does Anglican Church confess faith into Bible while on the other hand denying the Bible by accepting homosexuality as blessed by God? It is one or the other: If you go gay, leave Christianity, if you want to be Christian, leave homosexuality. There is no middle ground. Everybody knows this, but few will acknowledge it.
Veijo Sinerva, UK, Sandwich
The view that Jesus did not teach against homosexuality fails to take into consideration that the Pauline letters (where Romans explicitly condemns homosexuality)form an essential and complementary part of divine revelation and so Jesus' teaching should be seen in that light. The stance of Episcopalians who support Robinson mirrors the pride and arrogance of the Bush administration which is a kind of Americanism.
Noel, Leuven, Belgium
The only way for the Church to regain respect among society is to appeal to modern times, stop preaching intolerance and outdated dogmas. Otherwise, they will be giving excuses over this in the future, like they did over Galileo, interracial marriage, and the Inquisition. Open you eyes and love one another!.
Arturo Fuentes, Santiago, Chile
The Bible is clear that, while we all fall short of God's standards, homosexuality is not part of God's plan.
The bible contains very clear instructions over church leadership. If we are to ignore this and implement what we think God means, then what's the point of a Church at all? Happiness and unity are to be found through obedience to God's word. As a scientist I certainly do not feel that Christianity is outdated, or that science is the new religion - "The fool has said in his heart there is no God"
Personally I believe that all churches that are openly hostile to the concept of the ordination of women or gay clergy should be removed from the church for very unchristian beliefs and more importantly hypocrisy. By feeding this fear all they are doing in their own words 'is giving Satan the opportunity to walk among us feeding on the lack of goodness in our souls' and isn't he just loving it.
Nic (very old theologian), UK
We should all be allowed to value who or what we like ... without the PC-brigade or government manipulating us to believe ".... we must be forced or 'encouraged' to value everyone identically..."
Guy Patching - and others - the bible was not written by "a man" - it is God's Word, and Christians are required to live by the bible, if they are to be Christians. What nonsense to instruct the church to "move with the times." Then the church should condone abortion and murder I supposed, and give up all this "God stuff". What nonsense.
Jane Wilson, San Antonio, Texas
I'd rather live for a cause than a commission. The church is surely called to model Christ, not pick and choose his teachings. Since when did God place a commission at the head of his church?
Rob, Sheffield, UK
Frankly, I can't understand why a split would be bad for the Anglican Church. Is it not the product of a split from the Roman Catholic Church? The Anglican Church is not a political party - so why does it need to be united? Stop expecting every Christian to hold identical opinions and values.
Tim, Gillingham, UK
Organised religion is little more than a business, and the Anglican Church for me has underlined in recent years all that is wrong with organised religion. It deserves to fragment. It should get back to the values.
Chris Ivory, Bristol, England
Homosexuality, by itself, is not a sin. The sin is any sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. That is because the purpose of sex is to make children and to make love within the order of nature and within the institution of man that is most conducive to maximum commitment and selfless giving.
John, Fremont, Ohio, USA
Why should I, in Canada, care what the Bishop of Nigeria thinks? Maintaining the worldwide Anglican Communion should be of secondary importance to meeting the spiritual needs of the individual church member. So the North American churches should stick to their beliefs and withdraw if necessary, until the conservatives in Africa and elsewhere either come to their senses or are marginalized.
David, London, ON, Canada
Tim, Neil: the Bible (esp. Leviticus, where the most direct prohibition is) says all kinds of things are wrong which are these days accepted by the Church, and a like number of things it adjures us to do which are no longer acceptable.
Russell S, Leicester
What was interesting was that the speech called for all sides to apologize for various actions, moratorium on both same-sex marriages and one region trying to ordain bishops for another region, while admitting there was no mechanism for punishment of either 'side' for past actions or if they don't comply with these requests. In other words, let's all play nice together seems to be the short version (of the speech anyway). Perhaps that IS the best message?
Jane, Alabama, USA
I think that the bible is not suiting to modern living. It is outdated and does not apply to the way we live today. Being gay does not affect the way anyone does their job, so why don't people mind their own business and get on with their own lives and leave others to get on with theirs!
Lee, Reading, UK
It amazes me that the message of Jesus is so incredibly simple that a 3 year old can understand it, yet grown men in their fancy robes cannot grasp one tiny bit of it! Love One Another! Period! Jesus did not exclude anybody from that statement. Condemning others for whatever reason is not 'doing unto others as you would have them do unto you'. Maybe they should re-read their Bibles!
The ordination of Gene Robinson has already created a split. Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden according to the Scriptures and the Anglican Church is clearly going against its dictates by ordaining gay clergy. The Anglican Church, by ordaining Mr. Robinson, has placed itself above and beyond Scriptural injunction.
Frank, Omaha, NE USA
Gay clergy should stop practicing i.e. be celibate or be kicked out of the church as leaders. They are welcome as sinners just as long as they repent (turn away) from the sin and change their behaviour. The issue is quite clear to me, the sin is despised not the sinner. Anyone who is employed to live a life as God intends and to be a model to others (Jesus being the ultimate model) must be squeaky clean otherwise they are just hypocrites. One can't help thinking of the Pharisees of Jesus' day and their hypocrisy when thinking about the Anglican church of today.
Darren Yates, Basingstoke, UK
The real solution to all this is to go back to the Bible. If the Church studied the teachings of Jesus Christ, then there would be no argument as to who is wrong or Right - it is all in the Bible
Anon, London, UK
The problem is the Anglican church, like most religions, bases itself upon a book which (allegedly) was written two thousand or more years ago, which is written in such a way that it is highly unclear in most of the areas it covers. Everyone has their own interpretation and that is what the church needs to accept.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex UK
The Bible holds far too many contradictions and conflicts for people in today's society to be able to say we absolutely must live our lives according to what's been written in this ancient book because the world is changing. Unfortunately, the Bible isn't.
Roddy Fraser, London, UK
I find it mildly amusing. Yes, the scriptures may condemn homosexuality - but they also say that it is shameful for a woman to address the congregation, and that shellfish are an abomination. This chaos is inevitable if you attempt to live a modern life according to a two millennia old moral code.
Tony, UK, Beds, UK
In fact, the Bible does not 'explicitly condemn' homosexual activity; it is entirely a matter of interpretation. I suspect that many who say it does are just anti-gays who want 'authoritative' support for their prejudice. This is actually anti-Christian, in my view. Jesus never mentions the subject and there is no evidence that He was not gay himself.
SCH Smith, Crewe, UK
The bible clearly states that it's acceptable to own slaves if they are "heathens from another country" and that women are "unclean" for 7 days every month. However I don't see any campaigns to uphold these as key principles of Christianity. If you're going to base your faith and morals on the bible, you can't pick and choose - it's either all of nothing.
John, London, UK
Isn't it ironic that the most vocally homophobic diocese, Nigeria, is the same one that called for a relaxation on the laws against bigamy, because of that country's social norms. It seems that some issues of sexual morality are incontrovertible, while others are flexible.
Duncan Hothersall, Edinburgh, Scotland
No. The present situation is like branches of the Campaign for Real Ale promoting keg beer. Either enforce appropriate discipline or pack up and go home.
Alastair Hopkins, Wolverhampton, England
Most religions preach the value of tolerance and compassion. Sexuality is a small part of what it is to be human and whatever the orientation of an individual, it does not diminish the capacity for that person to heal, counsel, support and guide. Each person is so much more than the sum of their parts.
Jenni H, Luton, UK
I doubt this really has anything to do with sexuality at all, but just further signs of a medieval institution created by theft, cruelty and fear dying in the face of an intelligent populace that feel free to question - bottom line, how very "special" do you have to be to be deemed exclusively worthy of spiritual redemption? The relevance of the church in this period of mankind's history is what exactly?
The fact is those who believe that homosexuality is wrong because the bible says so... are wrong... so say some... what the issue shows is that there is disagreement in the church but splitting it up does not show true Christianity, The bible tells us we should respect one another despite there opinions. Jesus did when he help the Roman centurion despite he was Roman.
Alex Boyce, Italy
According to Christ we are "To love the Lord thy God with all thy strength, mind, and heart, and love one another as yourself." No choice there as to whom we should love - no discrimination against gays or lesbians or anyone else. If the Christian church had demonstrated that it followed that commandment, instead of picking and choosing who might be acceptable to it, it may well have had many more members today.
Religion no longer has an appeal to the masses. This is because people are, generally, educated enough to see things for themselves. They do not need a priest to tell them what they should or should not be doing. The church is an obsolete tradition that, if it wants to survive at all, will need to bend its moral values.
Andy, Brighton, UK
The Church of England, compared to most other religions, always had a rather cuddly image before this nonsense. It has been one almighty PR disaster for an institution struggling to survive in probably the most secular minded nation in the world (the UK is certainly the most secular minded democracy). If the more conservative elements in the Anglican global community, and those based here at home, want to leave and set up on their own then let them. It strikes me that the dear old CoE can do without these hate-filled bigots.
Neil, Southend, Essex, UK
What is the problem: Is it that they are openly gay or just gay? If I was religious I would rather be led by a truthful openly gay bishop than someone who is breaking one of the commandments!
Bob Knox, Alnwick England
The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a no-no (as do most religions), so it's not surprising that the church is split over it.
What is all the fuss about? As long as a gay cleric is good at his/her job that should be all that matters. The church must move with the times! If the biggest part (the African Anglicans) want their own way, let them have it. Don't give in to orthodox views.
Alex K, London. UK
No and that is because the west already has its religion - humanism. The Anglican church is pointless and spiritually dry.
Paul, Sydney Australia
Talk about theatre! Lets be honest, the Church of England is a corporate enterprise with a hugely flawed business plan. The victims are an unwitting congregation who are lost to the realities of the 21st century.
Tim Rollinson, Tonbridge, UK
Christianity is a dying religion in Europe. There is less reason for us to be dependent upon it in our everyday lives. Centuries ago, religion promised a painless Eden in the afterlife, where your troubles, woes and pains, miseries would all be absolved and you would live in bliss. In the modern world, science is the new religion. Religion causes wars, and creates false hope. Liam Salt
Liam Salt, Rotherham, England
All the Anglican Church has succeeded in doing is showing how irrelevant and out of touch it is with modern society. No wonder church attendance is falling and people no longer need a religious element to their lives. Perhaps a split church would actually be better as the more progressive elements could reinvent themselves for the reality of modern life, while those who remain so outdated and out of touch will fall by the wayside.
The Anglican Church has made a big step in at least acknowledging the issue, even if many of the clergy tend to dismiss even the remote possibility of accepting homosexuality into the church. It's a sad fact that this is the furthest that Christianity has come in this sense - most other denominations still condemn homosexuality as an outright and very grave sin. If they don't want to die out, they have to move with the tide.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany
Don't religious teachings say that everybody is created equally in the eyes of God? Why then are homosexuals (or even women) viewed as unsuitable priests when it's obvious that God doesn't mind? Those that oppose them are merely showing their own weaknesses, and let's face it, given the shortages the Anglican church needs all the priests it can get.
David Priddy, Slough, UK
The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is wrong. Whether or not you agree with this, if the church can't follow the Bible's teachings (that homosexuality is wrong) then it is no longer a church of God. It is a church of human values and political correctness. The church leaders should remember that their primary function is to serve and please God, not man.
Neil, Glasgow, UK
The Anglican Church already has a document that states their belief. It's called the Bible. If you don't agree with it (like me) don't go to church. Easy solution to the problem.
Peter, Nottingham (U.K)
The gift of any spiritual foundation is inclusion. For God & Nature made us all. Let them exclude away if they feel its the only way for them. I wish them well in an exclusive afterlife, I'll stick with the inclusive masses thank you, where anyone and everyone is up for redemption.
Don Oddy, Chelsea London
It's completely irrelevant to anything happening in the world today. The Anglican Church, like every other religion, is 'guarding an empty safe'. Their squabbles and quarrels mean nothing and should be roundly ignored by any intelligent person.
Lorraine, St Albans, UK
The problem comes from the fact there are clear statements against homosexuality in scripture. This can not be overcome except by common sense. The Church needs to be able to mature its morals and beliefs along with the rest of the world and see that the Bible was written by a man, a man who could get things wrong. I hope the commission takes a noble, forward stance and invites homosexuals to become a greater part of God's church.
Guy Patching, Uppingham,UK
It's unbelievable that institutions such as this still exist in the modern world... It's like people arguing over elements of Lord of The Rings....
Rico, Sheffield, England