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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 00:52 GMT 01:52 UK
Church makes threat over gay row
Gene Robinson
The ordination of gay bishop Gene Robinson divided Anglicans
A traditionalist Church of England group has said it is prepared to bring in bishops from overseas to ordain priests rejected by their own dioceses.

The evangelical Reform group has set up a panel to carry out its own assessment of candidates.

The group warned that the falling apart of the Anglican Communion made "irregular ordinations" inevitable.

The Anglican Church worldwide has been divided over the consecration of gay priests as bishops.

The row was sparked in 2003 by the consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, by the Episcopal Church in the US.

'Come and help'

Reform's move will increase tensions within the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality.

Reform's panel of reference will consider the cases of candidates rejected by their own bishops and, if necessary, facilitate their ordination by bishops from overseas.

Reform's chairman, the Rev Rod Thomas, said traditionalists would always try to solve problems initially within the Church of England.

However, he added: "But if at the end of the day it's impossible to find a solution within the Church of England, then yes, we might have to look outside to the rest of the Communion and say 'can you come and help us'."

Two years ago members of Reform recruited a bishop from a South African church for two irregular ordinations.

Dozens of traditionalist parishes in America have also sought oversight by conservative African churches.

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