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Some U.S. Episcopalians welcome schism

Feb. 21, 2007 at 1:14 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Rather than back down on gay rights, several senior U.S. Episcopalians told The Washington Post they would welcome a rift with the global Anglican Communion.

The issue is in the air since a meeting of the leaders of the communion's 38 national churches on Monday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A communique was issued giving the Episcopalian Church in the United States until Sept. 30 to renounce its acceptance of gay priests and same-sex marriages or face undisclosed repercussions.

Bishop Steven Charleston, president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., told the Post he viewed the mandate as an opportunity rather than a burden.

"Yes, I would accept schism. I would be willing to accept being told I'm not in communion with places like Nigeria if it meant I could continue to be in a position of justice and morality," Charleston said. "If the price I pay is that I'm not considered to be part of a flawed communion, then so be it."

The U.S. church's presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, signed the communique but has not explained her rationale to other bishops, the Post said.