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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Archbishop renews calls for unity
Dr Williams called the Church a "mixed economy"
The Archbishop of Canterbury has renewed his calls for unity in the Church of England, after a storm over the appointment of a gay bishop.

Dr Rowan Williams called for more tolerance in his first speech as Anglican leader to the Church's General Synod, its governing body.

He stressed the diversity of the Church, referring to it as a "mosaic of groups", "a company of unlikely people" and a "mixed economy".

Different groups must learn to communicate with each other effectively rather than shouting at each other through a "megaphone", he said.

"What makes a Church is the call of Jesus Christ, and our freedom and ability - helped by grace - to recognise that call in each other," he said.

I hope that Synod can lift its eyes for a moment from the traumas of recent weeks and days
Dr Rowan Williams

The speech at York University appeared to be well received by the Synod, with Dr Williams receiving a standing ovation.

The BBC's Annita McVeigh said it should go some way to calming the bitter row which has divided the Church over the appointment of gay clergyman Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading.

Dr John, an openly gay canon, was appointed to the position of Bishop of Reading but later withdrew after a storm of protest, apparently at the behest of Dr Williams.

Dr Rowan Williams did not mention Dr John by name but did say he hoped "all the pain" of recent weeks would prompt greater understanding within the Church.

"I hope that Synod can lift its eyes for a moment from the traumas of recent weeks and days - not to pretend or forget, but to be newly aware of what God is already doing in our Church."

Leaked report

Ahead of his speech the Sunday Times reported that a forthcoming discussion paper by a Church working group on the status of homosexuals in the Anglican Church will outline the case for greater tolerance.

On Sunday the Bishop of Hereford, the Right Reverend John Oliver, said a compromise should be possible.

He said there were "very many people who long to see a generous, inclusive Church".

But one evangelical member of the Church was less enthusiastic.

The Church Society's George Curry said: "The Bible tells us that just as adultery is always wrong, so same sex relationships are always wrong."

On Saturday a meeting at the Synod was interrupted by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who accused Dr Williams of "betraying his own principles" and said he had "bowed to pressure from theological homophobes".

The BBC's Robert Pigott
"The speech had something for everyone"

Gay protest disrupts Synod
12 Jul 03  |  UK

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