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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 08:31 GMT
Church leaders discuss gay crisis
Bishop Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson's election as bishop threatened to split the Church
Anglican church leaders from around the world are meeting in Newry, Co Down, to discuss the crisis over gay clergy.

During a week-long retreat, the 38 primates will consider the Windsor report, written in the wake of the appointment of a gay bishop in the US.

The report, published in 2004, set out a strategy to calm the crisis, which has threatened to split the Church.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has warned that difficult decisions lie ahead.

Speaking at a meeting of the Synod of the Church of England last week, Dr Williams said there would be "no cost-free outcome" from the row following the appointment of Gene Robinson in 2003.

The Synod has expressed its regret at the appointment.

Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart
Windsor report

The Windsor report was drawn up by the Lambeth Commission, set up by Dr Williams to consider a number of issues relating to homosexuality in the Church.

It warned there would be a split in the Church unless steps were taken towards reconciliation.

It said: "Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart."

Same-sex marriages

The report includes a proposal that the bishops involved in Gene Robinson's ordination apologise for causing "deep offence" among the Anglican community.

It suggests the same bishops should also consider whether they should withdraw from representative roles within the Church.

The row over gay clergy exploded following the ordination of Mr Robinson, who is openly in a committed same sex relationship, as Bishop of New Hampshire by the Episcopal Church in the US.

There was also controversy over the authorisation of services for same-sex marriages by the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada and the appointment of Dr Jeffrey John, a gay but celibate clergyman, as Bishop of Reading in the UK.

The row led to Dr John withdrawing his acceptance of the post and becoming Dean of St Albans instead.

This week's gathering is hosted by Archbishop Robin Eames, primate of the Church of Ireland, who headed the Lambeth Commission.


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