The Anglican Communion has suspended U.S. Episcopalians from serving on some interfaith bodies because of the election of a lesbian as a bishop in California.
The U.S. church opened a rift in the global communion, and within its own ranks, seven years ago by electing a gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Conservative African Anglicans have taken a lead in opposing moves in the United States and Canada to promote gays and to bless homosexual relationships.
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, had called for a moratorium on appointing homosexuals to leadership positions. He asked for action against the Episcopal Church after the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool was named an assistant bishop of Los Angeles.
The Anglican Communion is an association of 44 regional and national member churches, most founded by Church of England missionaries, with more than 80 million members in more than 160 countries.
The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, announced Monday that Episcopalians had been downgraded from members to consultants in formal ecumenical dialogues, annual meetings between Anglicans and clergy in other churches intended to build friendship and better understand one another's traditions and issues of mutual concern such as points of theology and ways of worshipping.
Kearon said he had also written to the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to ask whether it has formally adopted a policy backing same-sex blessings.
The Canadian church's governing General Synod is meeting this week, and is discussing whether to debate a motion on the issue.
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