Mon 16 Apr 2007
TORONTO (Reuters) - Everyone would lose if the Anglican Church splits in two over the issue of gay marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday.
Dr. Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Church, told a news conference in Toronto it was worth trying to preserve the unity of the church as long as possible.
"We may come to a point where people feel there are irreconcilable differences," said Williams. "But when there is an overlap between human rights and what the church can endorse, it does no good to isolate ideas... If the Anglican church divides, everyone will lose."
Williams has been walking a fine line of late in the raging debate over gay rights within the Anglican Church.
Last month, leaders of the U.S. Episcopal Church rejected a demand by conservative bishops for the American communion to give up authority over parishes that wish to remain closed to same-sex unions.
That irked several influential bishops in Africa and elsewhere who have staked out a conservative stance on homosexuality, which one has described as "an aberration unknown even in animal relationships."
The archbishop was quick to distance himself from that perspective on Monday, saying "I have consistently opposed any idea that gay and lesbian people are anything less than human and fully baptized members of the church."
"It is not just a case of nice people who want to include gay people in the church and nasty ones who do not," said Williams. "It is a question of what marriage is according to church doctrine and what types of behaviours that the church has the power to bless."
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