Anglicans Split Over Homosexuality

Swedish, US Branches Move to Approve Same-Sex Unions

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LONDON, JULY 16, 2009 ( The Church of England’s council of archbishops is expressing concern about a decision last month by Church of Sweden authorities to adopt rites for blessing same-sex unions.

A June 26 letter from the Anglican council to the Swedish central board affirmed the “problematic” nature of this move.

“Changes in the understanding of human sexuality and marriage,” it affirmed, “would lead to an impairment of the relationships between the churches.”

It added that this could “further undermine the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion.”

The letter was sent to the archbishop of Uppsala, Wejryd Anders, from Bishop Christopher Hill and Bishop John Hind, from the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Advisory.

It stated that “although there is a continuing debate among Anglicans about human sexuality, the teaching and discipline of the Church of England, like that of the Anglican Communion as a whole as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1998, is that it is not right either to bless same-sex sexual relationships or to ordain those who are involved in them.”

The proposal, the letter continued, “appears to be a fundamental re-definition of the Christian doctrine of marriage and of basic Christian anthropology.”

It affirmed, “This position would be at odds with the biblical teaching about the significance of God’s creation of human beings as male and female as this has been received by the Church of England and by the Catholic tradition in general.”

United States

Meanwhile, the Anglican branch in the United States, the Episcopalian church, voted this week in a general convention to allow the ordination of gay priests and bishops.

Moreover, in further sessions of the convention, the church is also expected to authorize rites for blessing same-sex unions.

England’s archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had warned the convention participants last week to refrain from decisions that will push the churches farther apart.

Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham, England, stated in a letter Wednesday to the Times of London that “the Americans know this will end in schism.”

The vote, he continued, to allow the appointment of “persons in active same-sex relationships” to all ministry positions is a “clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.”

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