Anglican church leader fears split over gay clergy

Study shows more men enter unions than women

Anthony Cuesta | January 09, 2007

Gene Robinson
LONDON — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has admitted his fears of losing control of the Anglican church in a divisive battle over gay clergy.

Reuters reports that Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, is battling to placate warring factions in a church on the brink of schism.

"Because I am an ordinary sinful human being, I fear the situation slipping out of my control," Williams said in an ITV documentary, reports Reuters.

"I fear schism, not because I think it's the worst thing in the world but because, at this particular juncture, it is going to be bad for us. It's going to drive people into recrimination and bitterness," he said in the program, reports Reuters.

Williams´┐Ż comments, which will be leapt on by critics who accuse him of weak leadership, come at a highly sensitive time for the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is being pulled apart over gay clergy.

According to the Christian Post, Williams will chair a make-or-break summit in Africa next month with his fellow archbishops who head the 38 self-governing churches or provinces that make up the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion.

The Post reports that Williams is hoping that a compromise will emerge, allowing conservatives and liberals to co-exist relatively peacefully until a more formal split can be worked out over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the Anglican head is facing fresh turmoil in the Church of England following the disclosure that more than 50 gay or lesbian priests have "married" in civil partnership ceremonies.

The Anglicans, a loose federation of 38 national churches around the globe, have struggled since 2003 to hold together a liberal minority and conservative majority, mostly in Africa, which opposed the naming of openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

US Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to head the 2.4 million member US Episcopal Church, has been under fire from conservatives because of her stand in favor of same-sex unions and support for Robinson's consecration. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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