Conservative Episcopal bishops leaving over gay row

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Three US dioceses have requested their own removal from the rule of the Episcopal Church’s new leader.

Conservative bishops from San Joaquin, California, South Carolina and Pittsburgh expressed dismay at the “painful complication” created at the denomination’s general convention when the church called for “restraint” in the ordination of gay clergy and appointed Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a supporter of gay rights, as its first female head.

A statement from the Diocese of South Carolina said: “We are grieved that relationships have now been so strained that we are no longer in impaired, but rather broken communion. For that reason, we do hereby request of Archbishop Williams that he, in consultation with the Primates of the Communion and the Panel of Reference, speedily provide alternative Primatial oversight for the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Diocese of San Joaquin called for recognition from the Anglican Communion separately to the Episcopal Church.

The requests come after the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams proposed a two tiered Anglican Communion involving those happy to sign up to a formal covenant as “constituents” and those who held different views would become “associated.”

Factions of the Anglican Church have been rowing ever since the appointment of gay bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson in 2003. Ruptures were supposed to have been minded through the Windsor Report in 2004, however the Episcopal Church’s General Convention has been accused of failing to address it appropriately.