World Anglican panel cannot agree on homosexual morality after three-year talks

Posted: Friday, August 02, 2002

LONDON (AP) -- An international panel of Anglican bishops that included the next archbishop of Canterbury reported it is unable to reach agreement on issues related to homosexuality after three years of discussions.

The dozen participants said they were unable to agree about ''a single pattern of holy living'' for homosexuals; on interpretation of relevant Bible passages; or on the relation between biblical authority and reason, experience and tradition.

Ordination of actively gay priests and blessing of same-sex couples are considered the most divisive issues in the international Anglican Communion, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Panelists included Archbishop Rowan Williams of Wales, Prime Minister Tony Blair's choice to be the next archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of world Anglicanism. Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold chaired the talks.

The panel urged further dialogue on whether Christian holiness should ''exclude or include homosexual behavior within committed relationships.''

It acknowledged the gravity of Anglican disagreement on this, calling it ''a burden and a distraction'' for the church's mission.

The retiring Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, appointed the sexual study panel after a 1998 meeting of the world's Anglican bishops where 82 percent voted to oppose same-sex activity.

Williams did not support that decision, ordained a gay priest living with a partner and said recently, ''I am not convinced that a homosexual has to be celibate in every imaginable circumstance.''

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