Episcopal-Anglican Rift Widens
Though the bishops issued no direct statement on those issues, they overwhelmingly passed three carefully worded resolutions that appeared to send a message.
"We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ, all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's church," one of the resolutions says.
Bishops at Wednesday's news conference said that though there were differences among American church leaders on issues of theology and sexuality, the leaders were largely unified on the question of outside interference in the governance of their church.
The plan for an alternative leadership "is spiritually unsound," says one resolution issued by the bishops, who had met in private at an Episcopal retreat near Houston. It "encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation.
"We cannot accept what would be injurious to this church and could well lead to its permanent division," the resolution says.
The bishops have requested an urgent face-to-face meeting with Williams to discuss their concerns.
The presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, told reporters Wednesday that during the Tanzania meeting, she asked Williams to visit the U.S. this year, but he "indicated at that time that his calendar was too full," she said.
Reaction to news of the bishops' decision included applause from liberal church members and organizations but concern from traditionalists.