Divisions over gay clergy have deepened in the Anglican Church. The ordination of openly homosexual Gene Robinson as a bishop in the US state of New Hampshire in 2003 prompted an outcry among traditionalists.
Now the church’s US and Canadian branches have been asked to withdraw from a key decision-making body.
The request asking them to leave the Anglican Consultative Council until 2008 was made by church leaders from across the world, meeting in Northern Ireland.
“The North American churches have been told very clearly and very directly about the potential cost of decisions that they have taken,” said the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
“The question now put is: given that cost, where do you want to put yourselves?” In Canada, the blessing of same-sex unions has caused a stir.
Church conservatives claim that gay and lesbian partnerships are simply not compatible with Christian teaching. But the North American liberals are standing by their actions.
Some now fear a break-up in the worldwide Anglican Church is inevitable.