Archbishop Rowan Williams urged to retract comments on election of lesbian bishop
Riazat Butt, Religious affairs correspondent [source code]
Thousands of Anglicans have urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to repent following his tepid response to the election of a lesbian bishop in the US.
Members of a Facebook group, set up last Wednesday, accuse Rowan Williams of failing to "exercise moral leadership to protect gays and lesbians in Uganda and has instead exercised political pressure to attack a bishop-elect in Los Angeles because she is a lesbian".
Last weekend's election of Mary Glasspool prompted the archbishop to warn of "serious questions" about the place of the US Episcopal Church in the communion "and the communion as a whole", a reaction that dismayed liberals who are pressing for equality of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church.
There is also disappointment that Williams has been slow to condemn proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda.
In the 48 hours since its launch more than 2,500 people have signed up to the group, saying: "As Anglicans who treasure their Communion and expect more from their Archbishop, we call on archbishop Rowan Williams to repent of his earlier statement and issue this one instead: 'The proposed legal actions that would make homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda, and the lack of outrage regarding this proposed action by the Church of Uganda, raises very serious questions not just for the Church of Uganda and its place in the Anglican communion, but for the communion as a whole.'"
They asked him to say that the proposed law could still be rejected and to remind church leaders in Uganda that offering pastoral care and "listening to the experience of homosexual persons" were necessary if "bonds of mutual affection were to hold".
Signatories to the group include US bishops and former staff members of Lambeth Palace, the archbishop's official residence, according to the group co-ordinator Susan Russell, past-president of Integrity USA, which works for the full inclusion of lesbians, gays and transsexuals in the Anglican communion.
The US Episcopal Church caused uproar in 2003 when it consecrated the Anglican communion's first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The last 18 months have seen conservative evangelicals break away to form a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America. Many Anglicans are calling on Williams to officially recognise the new body.
Glasspool needs approval from a majority of dioceses across the Episcopal Church before she can be consecrated next May.
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