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Archbishop of Canterbury: Unity of Anglican Church Compromised by Gay Bishop - 2003-11-03

The archbishop of Canterbury says he deeply regrets the divisions within the Anglican Church over the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the United States.

Rev. Rowan Williams says the consecration of Gene Robinson as an Episcopal bishop is having very serious consequences for the unity of the Anglican Church, which is made up of 38 administrative regions, called provinces.

In the archbishop's words: "The divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret; they will be all too visible in the fact that it will not be possible for Gene Robinson's ministry as a bishop to be accepted in every province in the communion."

Conservatives in the Church of England say they do not object to Bishop Robinson's sexual preference, but they say he should not be a church leader, while having an active sex life with his male partner of 14 years.

"We are not condemning anybody for having a loving relationship," said Reverend John Richardson, who represents an evangelical Anglican group called Reform. "It basically does come down to sex and sexuality. And that is the key question. And the church has always held that sex is for people of the opposite sex, within the relationship of marriage. We are in new territory with what's happening now."

The London-based Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has welcomed the appointment of Bishop Robinson. The group's general secretary, Richard Kirker, issued a statement saying Anglicans should resist pressures to exclude, and should build a diverse community.