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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2005, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
US Church excluded for gay stance
Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson's ordination in the US has sparked the crisis
The American and Canadian Churches have been excluded from one of the Anglican Communion's top bodies after refusing to change their views on homosexuality.

The policy-making Anglican Consultative Council voted them out for three years over their willingness to ordain gay clergy and bless gay relationships.

The ordination in the US of openly-gay Gene Robinson as a bishop has been threatening to split the communion.

The North American Churches refused to back down at a meeting in Nottingham.

The Anglican Consultative Council - which is regarded as relatively liberal - voted by 30 to 28 to call upon the Churches to withdraw voluntarily from its meetings for three years.

Gay lifestyle

The decision - which endorses a similar one made by Anglican archbishops in February - seems to indicate the council recognises that excluding the liberal North American Churches is the only way to hold the rest of the communion together, said the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott.

Canon David Anderson, of the American Anglican Council disagrees with the stance taken by the liberal churches.

[God] really wants men and women to live out their sexually active lives in conformity with what his word is and his word calls for sexual activity to be between a husband and wife of opposite genders in a lifelong union
Canon David Anderson

He told BBC News the homosexual lifestyle did not conform with the standards set for Christians by God.

He said: "[God] really wants men and women to live out their sexually active lives in conformity with what his word is and his word calls for sexual activity to be between a husband and wife of opposite genders in a lifelong union."

The Rev Susan Russell, president of the US gay Christian group Integrity, said gays and lesbians were just as capable of holiness as heterosexuals.

But she said: "The more important question, I think, for the Church, is, 'Does God care more about our sexual orientation or our theological orientation?'

Is this an issue that should split a communion when our attention should be focused on people dying of malaria and children with Aids in Africa?
The Rev Susan Russell

"And if one's theological orientation is determined to be correct, faithful and holy, then we see no bar to ordination."

She told BBC News the issue of gay clergy was "not a matter essential to the faith".

She said: "The more important question to me right now is, 'Is this an issue that should split a communion when our attention should be focused on people dying of malaria and children with Aids in Africa?'"

The Anglican church had been able to maintain unity while disagreeing internally on potentially divisive issues in the past and should be able to again if members had the will, she added.

On Tuesday, the Bishop of New York, Catherine Roskam, was one of several US clergy sent to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting to explain her Church's willingness to ordain gay clergy and bless same-sex relationships.

She told the meeting that she did not hope to change the mind of traditionalists - who believe homosexuality is inherently sinful - but to plead for the communion to live together with its differences.

Last year an inquiry into the row called for an explanation from the American church of the ordination.

The following Windsor Report warned that there would be a split in the communion unless steps were taken towards reconciliation.

US Church leaders have previously expressed "deep regret" for the pain caused by the appointment of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.




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