Gay bishop excluded from Anglican conference
The controversial Bishop of New Hampshire has not been invited to the Lambeth Conference next year.
Conservative and liberal branches of the worldwide Anglican communion have been at loggerheads over the issues of homosexuality and same-sex unions ever since Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was ordained as a bishop in the US in 2003.
The 14th Lambeth Conference, the assembly of Anglican bishops held once every ten years, will take place between 16th July and 4th August 2008 in Canterbury.
Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is spiritual head of the Anglican church worldwide.
He indicated last year that he did not want to discuss human sexuality issues at the conference, emphasising training matters instead.
In April the Archbishop said he even considered cancelling the Lambeth conference to avoid a schism.
“Yes, we’ve already been considering that and the answer is no,” he told the Anglican Church of Canada’s Anglican Journal.
“We’ve been looking at whether the timing is right, but if we wait for the ideal time, we will wait more than just 18 months,” he added.
The decision not to invite Bishop Robinson comes amid more splits in the American Anglican church, known as Episcopalians, over his ordination and the decision by some congregations to bless same-sex unions.
Last week the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, decided to reject the spiritual authority of the Episcopalian church and seek alternative oversight.
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Bishop Jack Iker, bishop of the diocese, is a leading traditionalist who opposes women priests as well as gay ones.
That decision marked a further disintegration in the unity of the Anglican communion and the authority of US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Earlier this month an outspoken African primate defied Archbishop Williams and established a breakaway branch of the church opposed to gay priests.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria accused the Anglican leadership of being “insulting and condescending” to the rest of the church.
He performed a ceremony to establish American bishop Martyn Minns as head of a new church branch under his control in Nigeria.
At least 45 US parishes have broken away and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of African bishops.