The gay community is being made a “scapegoat” for the problems in the Anglican Church, an Irish bishop claims.

The Right Reverend Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, told a meeting of the diocesan synod of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, last weekend, that rows over homosexuality are covering up a “constitutional crisis” which is hurting the inclusiveness of the Anglican Church.

He said: “Gay people in lay and ordained leadership as well as in voluntary work in our churches, or simply in our pews, or those who have been driven away by a sense of rejection, together with gay people in the community outside the Church, need to know and to hear our apology.

“Anglicanism runs the risk of becoming something wholly unattractive and unrecognisable to those who are drawn strongly to its sometimes exasperating breadth, untidiness and inclusiveness.

“Any proposal for a way forward which undermines our inclusiveness or comprehensiveness ought to be subjected to rigorous and autonomous scrutiny.

“Impetuously erecting walls of exclusion on the fuzzy edges of Anglicanism would, to my mind, be a negation of the essence of Anglicanism and of the Church of Ireland itself.”

The Anglican Church has been split over the issue of sexuality since the ordination of the openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson in the United States of America in 2003.

Last year, PinkNews.co.uk reported that senior African bishops claimed that the Church of England was “evil” to allow the ordination of gay clergy.

The “Global South”, a group of ultra-right wing, anti-gay bishops led by the Nigerian archbishop, Dr Peter Akinola in letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, urging him to reconsider his personal views on homosexuality: “we urge you to rethink your personal view and embrace the Church’s consensus and to act on it, based as it is on the clear witness of Scripture.”

Bishop Colton said all ministers should be invited to the next Lambeth conference in 2008 whatever their sexuality.