Discussions to save Anglican Communion still under way

.- Efforts to save the worldwide Anglican Communion from schism are still under way as Anglican primates continue with their five-day meeting in Northern Ireland this week.

Thirty-seven senior archbishops and primates, from all continents, gathered Sunday to discuss the future of the Anglican Communion in light of the divisive issue of homosexuality among the clergy.

Several conservative denominations have threatened to leave the communion if liberal churches refuse to repent for their lax views of homosexuality. The Anglican church in the United States, known as the Episcopalian Church, is particularly under attack for having consecrated an openly homosexual clergyman, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Some want the U.S. church thrown out of the communion.

In firm opposition to homosexuality among the clergy is Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, the head of the largest single church in the communion. In many parts of Africa, homosexuality is a criminal offence and members of the church who come are homosexual are persecuted.

Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the communion, is presiding over the five-day meeting. Sympathetic to the plight of homosexuals, he has tried to maintain an impartial position in the debate.

The primates are to discuss adopting the Windsor report, published last October, which recommends the traditionally autonomous provinces of the communion adopt a common covenant of agreed belief and resolve future disputes by referring them to the Archbishop of Canterbury and a panel of advisers.

However, there are fears that if the Archbishop of Canterbury were to arbitrate such disputes, his role would become too politicized. There are also fears that a common disciplinary framework would enable fundamentalist bishops to veto the activities of other churches, considered to be more liberal.

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