Leading Bishops in the Church of England say they will stay away from next month’s Lambeth Conference because liberal pro-gay Bishops from America have been invited.
According to reports in the weekend press at least three Bishops including the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali, will boycott the key summit.
The other two are the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, and the Rt Revd Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes. A further six are considering similar action.
The Lambeth Conference only happens once every ten years. Over 200 Bishops – mainly from Africa – have already snubbed the conference and are currently holding their own alternative event in Jerusalem.
The issue was throw into sharp focus last week with news of a ‘wedding-like’ blessing for a homosexual couple in one of London’s most famous Anglican churches.
The Bishop of Rochester is understood to have taken his decision following the invitation of American leaders who ordained the first homosexual bishop in the Anglican communion.
Their presence at the Lambeth Conference will be highly controversial. An official report, the Windsor report, recommended that they should be excluded.
The issue of homosexuality has become the focus of battles between conservative and liberal clergy within the Anglican church. For many traditionalists it a barometer of how faithful the church is being to the Bible’s teaching.
A booklet produced by organisers of the conference currently being held in Jerusalem states: “We want unity… but not at the cost of re-writing the Bible to accommodate the latest cultural trend.”
Many Bishops are also concerned at the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury to take a firmer line with those who flout the church’s teaching.
Archbishop Henri Orombi of Uganda said: “Supposing another part of the communion begins to do something which is contrary to the word of God, how is it going to stand up and say no to that? That’s my challenge.”