Archbishop holding meetings over gay rift

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Conservative Anglican leaders will meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss a split from the communion amid disagreement over the ordination of gay clergy in the denomination.

The Daily Telegraph reports that a secret meeting has been planned between Dr Rowan Williams and disheartened bishops from Africa.

It follows a recent summit agreement signed by clerics from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia in Kigali Rwanda which opposed gay bishops.

The row over gay bishops in the Anglican Communion has reached a new level recently after liberal clergy in the UK suggested teaming up with ideologically similar US churches, while the denomination’s most traditional church called for pro-gay congregations to be “excised.”

This latest meeting will reportedly include Primate of Nigeria Archbishop Peter Akinola who is known to want to form a break away group.

The Church of Nigeria says it is unfair to have to accommodate gay affirming churches, calling them “a cancerous lump in the body (which) should be excised if it has defied every known cure. To attempt to condition the whole body to accommodate it will lead to the avoidable death of the patient.”

The African church added: “We encourage the Archbishop of Canterbury to persuade those who have chosen to “walk apart” to return to the path chosen by successive generations of our forbears.”

Dr Williams has angered conservative leaders by not formally condemning homosexuality but instead encouraging dialogue.

He has already told leaders that he doesn’t want the issue to dominate the 2008 Lambeth conference which brings together all the Anglican congregations.

This summer’s General Convention of the US Episcopal Church displeased conservative members after failing to ban the ordination of homosexual bishops, stemming from the outcry of the appointment of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

The US Episcopal Church agreed on a watered down version of a proposal which would have banned the appointment of gay clergy.

Following the Convention, conservative bishops from San Joaquin, California, South Carolina and Pittsburgh expressed dismay at the “painful complication” created 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.