Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 22 May 2007 17:05 UK

Gay row US Anglicans miss summit

Bishop Gene Robinson
Bishop Gene Robinson sparked the row when he was ordained

Two bishops at the centre of divisions in the US over homosexuality have not been invited to next year's Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion.

Openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire, and Martyn Minns, of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans, will not be at the gathering.

More than 850 Anglican bishops have been invited to the conference.

The consecration of Gene Robinson four years ago led to a global dispute in the worldwide Anglican Church.

Ultimatum

Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, announced the two bishops had not been invited to the conference, held at Lambeth Palace every 10 years.

Invitations were made by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

Canon Kearon said the subject of whether to invite Bishop Robinson had "exercised" Dr Williams' mind for "quite some time".

He said: "The primates in 2003 and in 2005 recognised that the bishop of New Hampshire had been duly elected and consecrated according to the proper procedures of the Episcopal Church and it was stated in 2005 at the primates meeting.

"However, for the archbishop to simply give full recognition at this conference would be to ignore the very substantial and widespread objection in many parts of the communion to his consecration and to his ministry."

Bishop Martyn Minns
Martyn Minns broke away from the Episcopal Church

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) said the decision not to invite Bishop Robinson demonstrated "institutional homophobia presently haunting the Anglican Communion."

The Rev Martin Reynolds, LGCM director of communications, said: "This is a flagrant example of victimisation that quite clearly intends to diminish Bishop Robinson's status."

"We are deeply sorry for the failure of the communion to live up to its own standards.

"Bishop Robinson and the diocese he was duly and canonically elected to serve have our full support and we believe they deserve much better."

He said the decision put bishops from the US and around the world in an embarrassing position.

"If they accept their Lambeth invitations this might appear to support Bishop Robinson's victimisation, while if they reject the invitation they will abandon our communion to the homophobes," said Rev Reynolds.

Umbrella organisation

Several congregations in the US have left the national Episcopal Church, following the row over gay ordination.

These include the high-profile Truro Church, whose rector is the Right Reverend Martyn Minns, and the Falls Church.

The two high-profile churches joined an umbrella organisation, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (Cana).

Canon Kearon said Cana did not have recognition as one of the bodies of the Anglican Church and Bishop Minns had not been invited on those grounds.

He said there was no parallel between the exclusion of Bishop Robinson and Bishop Minns.

At a meeting last month in Tanzania, Anglican leaders issued an ultimatum to the US Church demanding an end to the appointment of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex couples.

US bishops have until 30 September to respond to the communique.

The leaders also announced that the US Episcopal Church must allow members who oppose gay clergy to worship under a newly formed pastoral council.



SEE ALSO
US church splits over sexuality
17 Dec 06 |  Americas

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