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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Anglicans must split, says bishop
Bishop of Rochester
A choice will have to be made, says Bishop Nazir-Ali
A split in the Anglican Church is inevitable with divisions between liberal and conservative factions "irreconcilable", a senior bishop says.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, told the Daily Telegraph there were "virtually two religions" in the Church.

His comments came as the US Episcopal Church chose a woman as its next leader - the first Anglican Church to do so.

The US Church has also controversially ordained the first openly gay bishop.

The appointment of Gene Robinson sparked fury from African Churches and other traditionalists.

The US Episcopal Church's governing general convention meeting in Ohio - at which Katharine Jefferts Schori was voted leader - is under pressure to "repent" of its decision to ordain him.

Traditionalists also want it to ban future openly gay bishops and to end the blessing of same-sex unions in church services.

'Two positions'

"Anglicans are used to fudging things sometimes but I think this is a matter of such seriousness that fudge won't do," Bishop Nazir-Ali told the Telegraph, in an interview while a guest at the convention.

"Sometimes you have to recognise that there are two irreconcilable positions and you have to choose between them.

"The right choice is in line with the Bible and the Church's teaching down the ages, not some new-fangled religion we have invented to respond to the 21st Century."

He said the US Church has become detached from its Anglican roots.

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

My fear is that the Church of England has made a number of moves in the liberal, Protestant direction
Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali

A decision by its House of Bishops to back civil marriages for gay couples showed this, he said.

"In the House of Bishops on Friday, they were passing resolutions that affect the Anglican understanding of marriage at the deepest level without theological debate," he said.

"It is not only what was done but the way it was done. It was so serious that things like gay bishops are just an interesting footnote."

Bishop Nazir-Ali said he also had concerns over the liberal direction the Church of England was heading.

"My fear is that the Church of England has made a number of moves in the liberal, Protestant direction," he said.

"That gives me concerns that the Bible will become less important and that the Church is moving away from its traditional Catholic order.

"If you move in that direction you become a kind of options Church, where you live by preferences."

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
Gay bishop debate stirs passions
02 Aug 03 |  Americas
Q&A: The Anglican Communion
06 Aug 03 |  In Depth

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