LONDON (AP) – The leader of the world's feuding Anglicans urged them to work toward a structure for coexisting Tuesday despite differences on the roles of women and gays and the authority of the Bible.
U.S. Episcopalians brought Anglican differences to a crisis point in 2003 by consecrating its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Last week, Episcopalians rejected demands from conservatives in Africa and at home that they elect no more gay bishops.
Episcopalians voted instead to call for "restraint." And in a communion where women bishops are the exception, Episcopalians ruffled some Anglicans by electing Katharine Jefferts Schori as their presiding bishop.
"There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, said in a letter to its 38 archbishops.
Williams has been trying to broker a truce between conservative and liberal archbishops worldwide since the Episcopal Church shocked traditionalists with the elevation of Robinson three years ago as bishop of New Hampshire.
"Neither the liberal nor the conservative can simply appeal to a historic identity that doesn't correspond with where we now are," Williams wrote.
He recommended a covenant, or agreement, suggested in 2004, which called for the U.S. church to apologize for appointing a gay bishop without fully consulting other Anglican bodies.
"Being an Anglican in the way I have sketched involves certain concessions and unclarities but provides at least for ways of sharing responsibility and making decisions that will hold and that will be mutually intelligible," Williams wrote.
"The reason Anglicanism is worth bothering with," Williams said, is because it has tried to find a way of being a church that is neither tightly centralized nor just a loose federation of essentially independent bodies — a church that is seeking to be a coherent family of communities meeting to hear the Bible read, to break bread and share wine as guests of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate a unity in worldwide mission and ministry."
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