Bishops Have 17 Days to Save the Anglican Church

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Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY

THE Anglican Church in the U.S. has been given 17 days to drop its plan to appoint a homosexual bishop or risk breaking up the centuriesold denomination.

Church leaders from around the world yesterday warned that the ordination of Gene Robinson - an openly gay divorcee - would 'tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level'.

Mr Robinson is due to be consecrated in New Hampshire on November 2.

In a joint statement issued from Lambeth Palace, 37 Anglican primates warned: 'If his consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy.

'In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world.' Last night, Frank Griswold - the U.S. church's leading bishop - said he supported Mr Robinson's appointment but that 'any number of things can happen'.

'I might do many things,' said Bishop Griswold, who would conduct the consecration ceremony.

'The second coming could occur, which would certainly cancel the ordination.' He added: 'What binds us together is deeper than some of the things that divide us.

The question of human sexuality, particularly homosexuality, is far from settled.' The primates' statement came at the end of a two-day summit called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to discuss the issue of gay bishops.

He said the meeting had been 'anything but easy'.

'It has not been without pain but it has been honest and open,' added Dr Williams, who is sympathetic with the gay agenda.

He said the divisive issue would 'continue to cause pain and anger and misunderstanding and resentment all round'.

The row flared over the summer, when the Church of England's diocese of Oxford appointed a homosexual as bishop of Reading, Jeffrey John. …