The Anglican Communion has taken action against the US Episcopalian church for breaking a moratorium on new gay bishops.

Following the church’s ordination of lesbian Mary Glasspool as assistant Los Angeles bishop, the Anglican Communion announced yesterday it has suspended US Episcopalians from serving on ecumenical bodies.

In letter to church leader Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori last week, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams proposed the sanction.

He wrote: “I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces [which have breached any moratoria] on gay issues should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged.

“I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on [the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order] should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori rejected the Archbishop’s suggestions and said the “willingness to live in tension” was a “hallmark of Anglicanism”.

In reply, she wrote that the Episcopal church was “a broad and inclusive enough tent” to hold those who agree and disagree with gay bishops.

She added: “We have not made these decisions lightly.

“We recognise that the Spirit has not been widely heard in the same way in other parts of the Communion. In all humility, we recognise that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.”

Since US Anglicans elected the first out gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, the church has been fighting over the issue.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion have been pushing for “restraint” on the numbers of gay bishops but last July, Anglican clergy and laity in the US voted to reject a three-year moratorium on new gay consecrations.