Anglican Head Seeks to Ease Tensions with U.S. Visit

( [email protected] ) Sep 04, 2007 12:14 PM EDT

The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion is scheduled to travel to the United States this month to ease the growing tensions within the Anglican Communion over gay bishops.

With the threat of a schism hanging over the worldwide church body since the consecration of The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in 2003, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has been desperately trying to reconcile liberals and conservatives who remain in disagreement over homosexuality.

Recent developments have further angered those on the traditional side of Scripture.

Last week, the Rev. Tracey Lind, an openly lesbian Episcopalian priest, was listed as one of five nominees vying to become the bishop of The Episcopal Church’s Chicago diocese.

Last week also marked the appointment of two American bishops by the Anglican Church in Kenya to guide conservative U.S. Anglicans who have turned to the Kenyan Church for oversight.

According to reports, Williams will fly to New Orleans later this month to meet Episcopal bishops and discuss demands by conservative Anglican leaders from the Global South that the U.S.-based church body refrain from allowing any other openly gay clergy consecrations until the entire worldwide communion agrees upon a precise stance.

If The Episcopal Church does not agree to these demands by Sept. 30, it will be extremely difficult for the archbishop to bridge the widening divisions within the communion.

Williams has expressed how serious he believes the current situation is, saying “[i]t feels very vulnerable and very fragile, perhaps more so than it’s been for a very long time”

In an interview with Time magazine earlier this summer, Williams said he was not "absolutely confident" that the global church body, which many say is on the brink of division, can stay together.

"Anglicans should remain Anglicans ... I don't think schism is inevitable," Williams said.

When asked if he was optimistic, however, the archbishop opted to use a "safer" word: "I'm hopeful."