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AMERICAN MORNING

Controversy in Anglican Church Over Gay Bishop Intensifies

Aired October 17, 2003 - 07:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The controversy in the Anglican Church over a gay bishop has intensified so severely that church leaders called a two day crisis meeting in London. The biggest division began when the U.S. Episcopal Church chose the Reverend Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. He is the church's first openly gay bishop. And now there's concern that the issue could tear apart the worldwide Anglican community.
The Reverend Canon David Anderson is president of the American Anglican Council and he joins us from London this morning to talk about this meeting.

Good morning to you.

Nice to see you.

Thanks for joining us.

REV. CANON DAVID ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ANGLICAN CHURCH: Certainly.

O'BRIEN: I want to start with a little bit of the statement that was the two page statement that was released out of this meeting. They said, "If the consecration proceeds, we have to conclude that the future of the communion itself would be put in jeopardy and also will tear at the fabric of our church at the deepest level."

Yet within this two page document, there is no specific action mentioned, no disciplinary course whatsoever. In fact, it sort of advises that the situation should be looked at for 12 months.

So give me a sense of the value of this document and of the meeting.

ANDERSON: Well, I think it was a very valuable document and the meeting was tremendously important. The document lays out an awareness of the problem and a procedure that things will be looked at. It doesn't provide the kind of immediate action that we might have liked, but it lays out a framework for how it will be dealt with. And it was amazingly signed unanimously, even by the American presiding bishop.

O'BRIEN: The American Anglican Council, in fact, wanted this meeting in Lambeth. Why, exactly?

ANDERSON: Well, we wanted the issue of the approval of Gene Robinson as the bishop elect for New Hampshire to be dealt with. And, in fact, I think they really did deal with it. The recognition is that New Hampshire has already said, just yesterday, that they're going to proceed. And so what that means is that in fairly short order the American Episcopal Church will demonstrate once again the defiance of the global Anglican family that has gotten all of us into this difficult situation.

O'BRIEN: So then in light of that and the fact that the consecration is going to proceed on November 2, I think the date is, what's the value of this statement?

ANDERSON: Well, it gives, also, recognition to the fact that many of the provinces of the global communion -- and there's 38 of them -- will probably start to break communion with the Diocese of New Hampshire and certainly with Gene Robinson as a bishop. They may even, in fact, break communion with the entire Episcopal Church in the United States.

O'BRIEN: How likely do you think that is?

ANDERSON: I'd say that that's probably in the vicinity of 80 percent likely if the consecration goes forward. Another piece of the document provides for pastoral care and oversight for conservative orthodox Episcopalians who are in dioceses where the bishop is a revisionist liberal bishop and is hostile to them.

O'BRIEN: Well, we'll see exactly what happens after this, as the drama essentially unfolds in the wake of this document and as we look forward to the consecration.

Thank you for joining us.

I appreciate your time this morning.

That's Reverend Canon David Anderson, joining us from London this morning.

Thanks.

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