In a bid to stop the Anglican Church from splitting, the American Episcopal Church has agreed not to ordain any more openly gay bishops and will not introduce a formal blessing ceremony for same sex civil partnerships.
The compromise between the liberal and conservative branches of the Episcopal Church, as the Anglican Church is known in the US, was agreed late last night as a vote was taken at crisis talks in New Orleans.
The church has agreed to “exercise restraint” when selecting bishops whose lifestyle poses challenges to the church, which has now been defined as a gay or lesbian lifestyle.
It is expected that unofficial blessings for same sex civil partnerships will continue in the dioceses of liberal bishops as a ban on this has not been established.
The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori commented on the Church’s official statement.
“Not everyone was 100 per cent happy with every word in this document, as you might imagine. But together we believe that we have found a place that all of us can stand together.”
In the statement the church made it clear that they still strongly oppose anti-gay behaviour including, “actions or policies that does violence to them, encourages violence towards them or violates their dignity as children of God.”
The Episcopal Church’s conflicting views on homosexuality has received global attention and intervention from leading Anglican Church figures including Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
The American liberalised church has clashed with the other provinces of the Anglican Church on issues of homosexuality within the communion since the Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican Bishop, was ordained in 2003.