Anglican bishops refuse communion over Episcopal church's pro-gay stance

February 19, 2007

Katharine Jefferts Schori
Seven conservative Anglican archbishops protested against the church leader�s support of gay bishops and blessing of same-sex unions Friday by refusing to take Holy Communion at an important meeting.

According to the LA Times, the men called their action in boycotting Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, "a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion," according to a statement posted on the Web site of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

The group included Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who has created a rival network of conservative churches in the United States.

Jim Naughton, canon for communications at the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., which accepts gay relationships, criticized the archbishops for making a sacrament a point of protest.

"Imagine if every believer everywhere insisted on knowing the views of every other worshiper in a church on all the hot-button issues of our time before they would agree to go to Eucharist," Naughton said to the Associated Press. "When you don't attend a Eucharist because you disagree with the views of the people who are attending with you, you make it seem that the Eucharist is about you. It is not about you. It is about God."

It was not the first time conservative Anglicans have declined to participate in Communion with an Episcopal leader, reports the Times. More than a dozen staged a similar protest against Jefferts Schori's predecessor, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, at a meeting in Northern Ireland in 2005. And conservative leaders also have held alternative Eucharists at conventions of the Episcopal Church in recent years.

But the boycott Friday, on the second of five days of sessions here by Anglican leaders, came against a backdrop of growing concern that the global church may break apart over sharply divergent views on homosexuality and biblical interpretation. The church has 77 million members worldwide, including about 2.3 million in the United States.

"We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding," the archbishops said in the Web posting, reports the Times. They said they would "continue to pray for a change of heart" by the Episcopal Church and its leaders. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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