The general assembly of one of America's biggest churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA), will be asked to consider a series of resolutions later this year declaring that "irreconcilable" differences exist within the denomination over the ordination of gay clergy.

One proposed resolution would allow liberal Presbyterians who support such ordinations to leave the denomination, taking church property with them.

The proposals, or "overtures", announced last month by a group of conservative Presbyterians in the US state of Pennsylvania, have been criticised as "provocative" by some liberal church members. "I find it offensive," said clergyman Laird Stuart of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, a group seeking to change current church law prohibiting the ordination of openly gay ministers.

"It's premature, it's unfaithful. [They] seem to overlook that most who are the targets of this overture don't want to leave the church, and don't intend to leave", Stuart told ENI. "We want to stay in the denomination, but we also want the denomination's policy [on homosexual ordination] to change."

Supporters of the resolutions say that they represent a realistic assessment of an irreconcilable impasse within the denomination. Permitting liberals to leave with their church property - something not typically allowed when individual congregations leave a denomination - would uphold the dignity of conscience of those who disagree with Presbyterian policy on ordination.

"We're trying to be truthful," said clergyman Dan Reuter, who plans to put the resolutions in June when the general assembly of the 2.5-million-member denomination meets in Long Beach, California.

The resolutions were drawn up by the Presbytery of Beaver-Butler, in western Pennsylvania. ...

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