Anglican bishops "deeply regret" appointment of gay bishop

 Anglican bishops said last night they "deeply regret" the appointment of a practising gay bishop in the United States, and warned global Anglican unity will be placed "in jeopardy" if he is consecrated. In a unanimous statement at the end of a two-day crisis meeting on their deep divisions over homosexuality, leaders of 37 national churches called on the Episcopalian Church not to consecrate the Rev Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. Although the statement warned members not to react precipitously, the Bishops appeared to now concede that some parts of the church would cut off communion with the New Hampshire diocese or the whole Episcopal church. But the Bishops stopped short of expelling the US Episcopal church as a number of conservatives had demanded. Instead they called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to establish a commission to study the divisions and report within a year. Commenting on the meeting Archbishop Rowan Williams said it had been "anything but easy" and added that "it had not been without pain". The Bishops said: "If this consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy." The statement added: "In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognized by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church (USA)" Conservative leaders have been demanding that the American church be suspended for appointing Robinson, a practising homosexual as bishop. The row over Robinson comes hard on the heels of the approval of same sex blessings in the dioceses of New Westminster, Canada and the furious row in the UK over the nomination of Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. It is understood that American conservatives have already begun moves towards a total break with the US Episcopal Church. The Anglican Church of Nigeria has already severed ties with the diocese in Canada. Hours later the Anglican Diocese of New Hampshire issued a statement confirming that they are going to proceed with the ordination of Rev Gene Robinson.

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