The ongoing row over gays in the Anglican church took a new turn today with the revelation that senior church figures are considering submitting to the authority of the Pope.

A commission set up in 2000 to consider ways of re-uniting the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches is due to report later this year.

The Times newspaper published extracts of the report today, and it includes the proposal that the Anglican church should work towards recognising the Pope as head of the church.

While the concept of a reunification of the Western churches under one patriarch has been discussed for decades, the present anti-gay stance of Pope Benedict XVI has alarmed gay Anglicans.

Commenting on the leaked report, Fr Martin Reynolds, a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“It is not good news, because the present Pope is conducting a worldwide war against gay marriage.

“There is evidence to suggest that Rowan (Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury) is going cool on gay issues.”

A conference of Anglican primates finishes today in Tanzania.

The meeting has been turbulent, with many discussing the possibility of a split in the church over the blessing of gay partnerships and the ordination of gay bishops.

While the focus has been on conflicts between American and African position on homosexuality, Fr Reynolds argues that the backdrop of a rapprochement with the Vatican is a key factor driving the hardline position of many primates.

“The significance of ecumenical relations on the gay issue has been underestimated buy many Anglican observers,” he said.

“We all know that Dr Williams had a strong heart for Christian unity, not just with Roman Catholic church but for ties right the way thru the Christian tradition.”

The conference of Anglican primates finishes today, and it is still unclear if a compromise on gay issues has been reached.