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U.S. News

U.S. church wants meeting with Anglican head

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, listens to a question during a news conference in Beijing October 23, 2006. Episcopal bishops meeting in Texas have called for a crisis meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury in a bid to resolve a divisive dispute over gay clergy in the U.S. branch of the global Anglican Communion. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

DALLAS (Reuters) - Episcopal bishops meeting in Texas have called for a crisis meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury in a bid to resolve a divisive dispute over gay clergy in the U.S. branch of the global Anglican Communion.

The spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has been treading a delicate line on the issue which has divided the church internationally.

“The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, meeting in Navasota, Texas, expressed an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury,” the bishops said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Divisions among Angligans widened with the Episcopal Church’s consecration of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

The Anglican Communion gave the U.S. church a September deadline last month at a meeting in Tanzania to stop blessing same sex unions, but gave no clear indication of what action it would then take.

It also proposed a “pastoral scheme” by which the Episcopal Church would appoint a “primatial vicar” -- a U.S.-based deputy of a conservative foreign bishop -- who would look after parishes and dioceses that want to switch allegiance to traditionalist bishops abroad.

The American bishops objected to that idea, saying it would be “injurious to the polity of the Episcopal Church.”

Seven of the Episcopal Church’s 111 dioceses have already voted to switch allegiance abroad. Anglican churches are usually organized geographically, and allowing dioceses to choose which primates to follow would create a patchwork of competing loyalties within the same national church.

Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan

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