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Vatican, Anglicans break up talks over gays dispute

December 3, 2003

VATICAN CITY — The Roman Catholic Church broke off its attempt to find doctrinal common ground with the Anglican communion Tuesday following the appointment of an openly homosexual bishop by US Anglicans.

A Vatican statement referring to "recent developments within the life of the Anglican Communion" said these meant that the doctrinal discusions "would have to be put on hold in the light of ecclesiological concerns raised as a consequence of these events." The Vatican is impacably hostile to the ordination of active homosexuals as priests or their consecration as bishops.

The confirmation in August of the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire opened up the worst crisis within the 70-million-strong world Anglican communion since the Church of England began ordaining women as priests.

Despite their sharp differences over the issue, both the Vatican and the Anglican Consultative Council here said they remained committed to continuing their dialogue in the future.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical council for the promotion of Christian unity, told journalists that the issue of homosexuality in two Anglican dioceses made it difficult to maintain relations between the churches.
"Until recently, it was possible to affirm that the moral principles that guide human sexuality were largely shared by Catholics and Anglicans," Walter said. "We hope to be able to affirm this again, because the world needs our joint witness."

Pope John Paul II received Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, the church of England primate, for the first time in October and remarked on the "new and serious difficulties" that had arisen on the path to unity.

Williams, who took office in February, in principle supports the appointment of gay clergy. –Sapa-AFP

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