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VICAR MAKES A STAND

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:57 23 August 2010

VISITING CLERICS:  Two African bishops make their way towards Canterbury Cathedral for this week’s Lambeth Conference.

VISITING CLERICS: Two African bishops make their way towards Canterbury Cathedral for this week’s Lambeth Conference.

A VICAR said he respects the decision of Britain s most high profile bishop not to attend the Lambeth Conference over the issue of homosexuality within the church. Peter Rich, 62, vicar of the Parish Church of St Aidan, Gravesend, said opinion in the dio

Gravesend
22-07-08
Vicar Peter Rich of St Aidan Parish Church

A VICAR said he respects the decision of Britain's most high profile bishop not to attend the Lambeth Conference over the issue of homosexuality within the church.

Peter Rich, 62, vicar of the Parish Church of St Aidan, Gravesend, said opinion in the diocese is divided over the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali's actions.

He also expressed concerns about a split in the church over the issue and said the church would have to become more flexible.

About 250 of the invited 900 bishops are boycotting the Anglican conference, being held Canterbury University. It follows three days of prayers and reflection at the picturesque Canterbury Cathedral.

Reverend Rich, of the St. Gregorys Crescent church, added: "It is a very difficult issue and we have discussed it in church council a lot. There are mixed feelings about it. If a bishop has a standpoint then he can either express it by going or by not going.

"It is quite hard to see how the Anglican Communion can hold together in its current state - it might have to change shape slightly.

"We are concerned about a split in the church, but if you are just trying to hold two points of view together, well, it doesn't work. Perhaps it would be better to have a more loosely knit body.

"At the end of the day, it is up to the individual's conscience to decide, so I respect Bishop Nazir-Ali's decision. I don't think it is fair for me to give opinions on his standpoint."

One of the conference's key debates is on the Anglican Covenant document, which aims to avoid a split in the Church over the consecration of gay bishops.

The consecration in the US of openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson in 2003 started the controversy around homosexuality.

It was because of this that Dr Rowan Williams chose not to invite Gene Robinson, who is believed to be present on the fringes of the conference.

The Lambeth Conference is expected to finish on August 3.

elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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