Episcopal Church agrees to halt pro-gay agenda

The Episcopal Church in the US has agreed to halt the ordination of gay clergy in efforts to prevent a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

|PIC1|In Tuesday's developments, the Episcopal Church said it would also stop all prayers of blessing for same-sex couples, thus fulfilling the two major conditions requested by Anglican officials by the 30 September deadline.

The decision comes after Anglican leaders across Africa and Asia threatened to leave the worldwide Communion unless appropriate assurances were given that the Church would reverse its pro-gay agenda.

US bishops made the decision during a six-day meeting in New Orleans, as the worldwide Anglican community waited in anticipation for a positive outcome from the talks.

The threat of a worldwide split has been hanging over the Communion since the ordination of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay in the US Episcopal Church in 2003.

Part of the six-day meeting was attended by the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams, who reportedly insisted that the Church make the relevant concessions to ensure the worldwide body remained united.

It is hoped that the news will appease conservative members of the Church, who have reportedly made plans to adopt a breakaway group of American dioceses that oppose the US Church's liberal stance on homosexuality.

The proposals would allow the conservative dioceses to opt out of the liberal US Episcopal branch of the Anglican Communion and affiliate with a conservative province thousands of miles away.

Adherents of the Christian faith have historically taught that homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture, and conservative Christians hold onto the belief that homosexuals should not be allowed to hold positions of leadership within of the Church. They also feel that the Church should not bless gay relationships, as this would be tantamount to blessing a sinful act.

Liberal Anglicans, meanwhile, argue that biblical teachings on inclusiveness should take precedence and nullify any such teachings against homosexuality.

In the announcement made on Tuesday, Episcopal bishops did, however, reaffirm their commitment to the civil rights of gay people and added that they opposed to any violence towards them or violation of their dignity.

According to the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishops found "common ground to stand on ... high ground".

"Not everyone is 100 per cent happy with every word in this document, but we believe we have found a place that all of us can stand together -- at the foot of the cross."