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Episcopalians rebuked, but not disciplined, by Anglican leaders


LONDON(RNS) - Leaders of the Anglican Communion said Oct. 16 they would not discipline the Episcopal Church for its approval of an openly gay bishop, but warned that Episcopal policies on homosexuality threaten to "tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level."

A two-day emergency summit of Anglican leaders said the future of the Anglican Communion "will be put in jeopardy" if Gene Robinson is installed as the next bishop of New Hampshire.

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, which is led by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The 37 Anglican primates, or presiding bishops, also rebuked the U.S. church - along with the Vancouver-based Diocese of New Westminster - for allowing the blessing of same-sex unions. One primate, from the Philippines, did not attend the meeting.

"These actions threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as our relationships with other parts of Christ's church, our mission and witness, and our relations with other faiths, in a world confused in areas of sexuality, morality and theology," the primates said in a joint statement.

The primates, responding to criticisms from the Vatican and some Muslim groups, said the U.S. and Canadian policies do not change Anglican teachings on sexuality. They upheld a 1998 Anglican policy that opposed gay ordination and same-sex blessings and ruled homosexual acts "incompatible with Scripture."

"We must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardize our sacramental fellowship with each other," the primates said.

Still, despite the strong verbal condemnations, the primates did not impose the "severe sanctions" called for by U.S. conservatives as punishment for the church's liberal drift on human sexuality.