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Anglican Church Asks U.S., Canada to Leave

Presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank T. Griswold hope debate on issues around gay unions will continue. The ordination of openly gay and partnered Bishop Gene Robinson set off a firestorm in the church.

Wow. They really did it. The schism is official. (AP):

The U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada withdrew Thursday from a key body of the global Anglican Communion under pressure from conservative church leaders distressed by the election of a gay bishop in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions in the two countries.

Though the suspension of the two churches was said to be temporary, it marked the first formal split in the communion over the explosive issues of sexuality and biblical authority.

…The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank T. Griswold, said the debate would continue and that his fellow church leaders had made room “for a wide variety of perspectives.”

The U.S. church precipitated the most serious rift in the communion’s history when it affirmed the election of V. Gene Robinson, who openly lives with a male partner, as bishop of New Hampshire. Both churches have been criticized by conservatives for sanctioning blessings of gay unions.

The statement said the two churches were withdrawing from the Anglican Consultative Council, a key body for contact among the national churches, at least until 2008.

“In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage,” the statement said.

…To some in the church, a break in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion is not unthinkable. “There do come times when the authority of the Bible is at stake — and this is one of those times — where to stay together becomes a great difficulty,” Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney said in a British Broadcast Corp. radio interview on Thursday.

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