(CNSNews.com) - Bishops in the worldwide Anglican community should not ordain any more openly homosexual members of the clergy and should stop conducting same-sex marriages, a long-awaited report said Monday.
The Windsor report, created by a commission set up by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, also urged leaders of the church in the U.S. to apologize for consecrating Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire last year, since that move had caused "deep offence" among the 70 million members of the Anglican Communion.
"There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together," the report said, noting that ordaining more homosexual bishops could create an irrevocable split in the church. "Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart."
The report added: "The Episcopal Church (USA) is invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire."
Regarding same-sex unions, the report said: "Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public rites."
The report is a response to a controversy that began this past year, when Jeffrey John, a homosexual but celibate clergyman, was nominated to serve as the bishop of Reading. The resulting outcry led John to reject the post, instead becoming the dean of St Albans.
Also, Canadian Anglicans voted to approve same-sex marriages, and U.S. Anglicans, known as Episcopalians, consecrated Gene Robinson, a homosexual divorced father of two, as a bishop.
Both of these moves defied official church policy and drew strong protest from conservatives in North America, as well as members in Africa, Latin America and Asia, where Anglican worshippers are more numerous and tend to be more traditional than in the West.
The issue of homosexuality has become the greatest controversy in the past decade for the Communion, a loose association of 38 self-governing churches with parishes spread across 164 countries.
Following the Windsor report's publication, the Rev. Martin Reynolds, a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said that movement was "very saddened by the suggestion that bishops who have been supportive of Gene and supported same-sex blessings should withdraw from the councils of the church."
However, Reynolds said the organization was "very happy with the general tone of the report, which is aimed at healing and reconciliation."
Reynolds also praised the section of the report saying that the debate over homosexuality had not ended. "That makes a change from being strangled as some people are literally in many places around the world," he said.
See Earlier Story:
Church Consecrates Openly Homosexual Bishop (Nov. 3, 2003)
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