Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Episcopal bishops see "clear" statement on gays

By Russell McCulley

NEW ORLEANS, Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. Episcopal Church bishops, hammering out a response to a request by the broader Anglican Communion that it stop ordaining openly gay bishops, said on Monday its answer would be "clear and unambiguous."

The church also said it would not withdraw its support for gay and lesbian church members, indicating that the Anglican struggle over the issue between liberals and traditionalists that could split the worldwide church is far from over.

"We want that statement to be clear and unambiguous and we are working in that direction," Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta told a news briefing in New Orleans, where the House of Bishops has been meeting.

The church leaders will wrap up six days of meetings on Tuesday with a response to the request made by senior Anglican bishops meeting in Tanzania earlier this year.

Those bishops asked that the U.S. church, by the end of this month, renounce the blessing of same-sex marriages and agree not to allow more non-celibate gays to become bishops.

"Are we going to withdraw our support of gay and lesbian people in the church? No, we're not ... They're fully enfranchised members of our body," said Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.

"Are we going to do anything that will exacerbate this situation? No, I don't think we will."

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