Williams's comparison of gay sex to marriage sparks fresh row

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The Independent Online

A last-ditch attempt to undermine the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury was under way last night with the leak of an exchange of letters from eight years ago in which Dr Rowan Williams appears to compare homosexual relationships to marriage.

The leak comes after Dr Williams presided against the odds over a successful Lambeth Conference which united the 650 Anglican bishops who attended over the past two weeks.

Although Dr Williams has been regarded as a liberal on matters of sexuality and gender, he has emerged from the conference as a mediating figure who has time for both sides.

The release of the letters, written in 2000 and 2001 between the Archbishop and Dr Deborah Pitt, a psychiatrist and evangelical Christian, will be seen as a last-ditch attack on Dr Williams's authority. "By the end of the 1980s I had definitely come to the conclusion that scripture was not dealing with the predicament of persons whom we should recognise as homosexual by nature. I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness," he wrote.

Many observers were surprised at Dr Williams's ability to unite the Communion.

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