Traditionalist Anglicans around the world reacted to the news the primates of the Anglican Communion had suspended the Episcopal Church from membership in the 70 million member bodies' international council with a mixture of elation and caution.

Conservative leader Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh called the February 25 communiqué an "epochal" moment in the life of the church, while the archbishop of Sydney adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, summoned the leaders of the 38 member churches of the Anglican Communion to Newry, Northern Ireland, to discuss the Windsor Report. The study, released in October, was commissioned after a diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada authorized its clergy to perform same-sex "unions" and in the wake of the American church's decision to consecrate a noncelibate homosexual priest as bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire. The consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson scandalized Anglicans in Africa, Asia, and South America and divided the church in the United States.

Following four days of closed-door meetings, the Anglican leaders (called primates) unanimously agreed on February 24 to "request the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw" from the Anglican Communion's consultative council for three years. During the suspension, the churches were to reconsider their actions and amend their ways or provide an acceptable theological rationale for normalizing homosexual behavior.

The primates also asked, "as a matter of urgency," that the archbishop of Canterbury appoint a "panel of reference" to see that the American and Canadian churches grant alternative pastoral oversight to conservative congregations unable to accept ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.