Bishops in US decline call for gay blessing

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The Independent US

Leaders of the Episcopalian Church in the United States declined calls for the drafting of a common liturgy for the blessing of same-sex couples. Their decision aims to preserve church unity after a divisive decision this week to confirm the appointment of an openly gay bishop.

A meeting of about 100 bishops of the church, which ministers to US Anglicans, failed to adopt a motion that would have agreed on a wording for the blessings. Instead, they approved a statement acknowledging that such blessings are taking place in some of their dioceses.

"We had pushed our own province as far as we thought we could do it,"said the Right Rev Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island, referring to the vote confirming Canon Gene Robinson as the new Bishop of New Hampshire, a move that spurred vigorous protests from conservatives members of the church.

"I'm sure some people will understand this to be an authorisation. I don't believe that is what the intention of the resolution was," Bishop Mark Sisk of New York said. "It carefully steps back from saying we authorise. It says we recognise."

The statement, which is non-binding, said: "We recognise that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions."

US gay rights activists will take some solace from the bishops' statement, which amounts to an acknowledgement that same-sex blessings can be arranged.

Final approval of the statement awaited an additional vote in the lower house of the Episcopalian convention.