Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Sunday, 22 June 2008 10:26 UK

UK bishop 'will boycott Lambeth'

Bishop Nazir-Ali
A former Catholic, Bishop Nazir-Ali is known for his traditional views

A leading Church of England bishop will boycott the Lambeth Conference in protest at the presence of pro-gay bishops, it has been reported.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali will decline an invitation to the Anglican Communion summit.

Bishop Nazir-Ali has helped organise the rival Gafcon conference currently being held in Jerusalem.

The Lambeth Conference, held every 10 years, takes place next month.

It is reported that two other English bishops will turn down invitations.

Currently about 280 bishops are at the Gafcon conference, many of whom are expected to boycott the Lambeth gathering.

The organisers behind the Jerusalem conference have called it a "pilgrimage back to the roots of our faith".

Gay bishop ordination

The ever-widening split caused by the dispute over homosexuality is likely to overshadow the Lambeth Conference.

The dispute was ignited when the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson was ordained in New Hampshire, in the US, in 2003.

It is the invitation to Lambeth of bishops who helped the ordination which has most recently angered some - although Gene Robinson himself has not been invited.

The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the news of Bishop Nazir-Ali's boycott - among others - would be damaging to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

He told Radio 4's Sunday programme: "It's part of a drip, drip of bad news that has affected the Lambeth Conference."

Our correspondent said the boycott, not only by the Bishop of Rochester but many other traditionalists attending Gafcon, was unprecedented in the Lambeth Conference's 100 year history.

"This meeting is needed really to knit together this very diverse group of Anglicans from all over the world and to, in a way, celebrate what they do have in common, which is an enormous amount.

"So to have this real dent in it is harmful, to put it mildly. And then to have English bishops not coming along, and making it quite clear that they are not I think is going to undermine it further.

"It will show that this dispute has entered the Church of England."

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