Schori: 'Episcopal Church will not Abandon Support for Diversity'

The incoming head of the U.S. church said on Friday that the Episcopal Church will not abandon its support for diversity, and those threatening a schism over gay issues are a small segment of the membership.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will become the first woman to head a branch of the worldwide Anglican Church when she is installed at Washington's National Cathedral on Saturday, also claimed the fact that she is a woman has added fuel to the fires of division in the church.

Asked during an interview aired on the NBC-TV "Today" show how she hoped to reach conservative dissidents in the 2.4 million-member U.S. church, she said she would "reach out, trying to accompany them in their pain, to say that I understand how difficult this change is being for you, and to say that we're not going to abandon anyone.

"We're going to continue to hold up that blessed diversity that's been a hallmark of the Anglican way of understanding," she
added.

The 77 million-member Worldwide Anglican Communion, a loose federation of national churches around the world, has been in turmoil since 2003, when the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop in more than 450 years of Anglican Church history.

Asked how much of the current controversy is related to her being a woman, she said: "I think there's a piece of it that has to do with that. I think if a man had been elected to this position at this time things would be not quite so hot."

A group of African, Asian and Latin American bishops suggested this year that those Episcopalians upset with the situation should form their own church, and some U.S. bishops have asked to be placed under the jurisdiction of more orthodox overseas Anglican primates.

Four Anglican primates from Nigeria, the West Indies, Kenya and West Africa are scheduled to meet in Virginia this month with seven Episcopal bishops who have asked that they and their flocks be placed under them.

In addition, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams,
is to discuss a formal split in the worldwide Anglican Communion with Conservative Anglican leaders in a confidential meeting scheduled for later in the month.

The outspoken Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, will be among the group of conservative archbishops who will meet Dr Williams at Lambeth Palace to consider the creation of a parallel body for conservatives in America, reports The Telegraph.

The latest development in the crisis over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion follows the release of the Kigali communiqué by Global South leaders in Africa last month.

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