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Gay clergy ordination causes Anglican rift -

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ELEANOR HALL: A group claiming to represent almost half of the world's Anglicans has broken off
relations with the church in the United States, and says it plans to set up a separate council of
bishops to fight modern trends in the church including the ordination of gay clergy.

One of the group's leaders, Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen, denies the plans amount to a split in
the communion.

But a leading Anglican commentator says it's pretty close, as Ashley Hall reports.

ASHLEY HALL: When the American Anglican Church elected the openly gay cleric Gene Robinson as a
bishop in 2003, homosexuals in the church lauded it as a victory for equality.

But the move also exposed divisions that ran deep in the communion. Conservative dioceses were
furious at the church's failure to discipline the Americans.

It sparked a movement against tolerance for homosexuality, which culminated in the Global Anglican
Future Conference or GAFCON in Jerusalem. A week of singing, praying and talking about the church's
future.

PETER JENSEN: The homosexual crisis is only symbolic of a whole way of looking at the world and
which many in the church have taken on as well, I call this post-modernity.

ASHLEY HALL: Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen is one of GAFCON's key leaders.

PETER JENSEN: We have decided to rescue people in the west who want to stand for the old ways, who
want to stand on the bible. Secondly, we've decided to protect ourselves against this postmodern
and relativistic world view that will come our way through the internet and other communication
revolutions.

ASHLEY HALL: The Anglican clerics signing the Jerusalem Declaration say they represent more than 35
million Anglicans throughout the world, many of them in Africa.

The declaration breaks off ties with the American church, accusing it of preaching a false gospel.
It sets up a separate council of archbishops, and a commitment to a conservative statement of
theology.

Bishops would also be allowed to cross parish borders to adopt congregations unhappy with the
teachings of the mainstream Anglican Church.

The leaders of the new movement say they're not splitting from the mainstream church, nor are they
creating a church within a church.

But that's not quite the way Dr Muriel Porter sees it.

She's a prominent Anglican lay-woman in Melbourne and a member of the church's general synod and
standing committee.

MURIEL PORTER: Not splitting, saying this is not a split is a way of having your cake and eating it
too. It's very close as the challenge that I think to the American church and the Canadian church,
they say they're out fellowship with them. More importantly, they're saying, they're declaring as I
read this declaration that the Archbishop of Canterbury's role in determining to finding who is
Anglican and who isn't, is no longer the case.

That to me is tantamount to a split.

ASHLEY HALL: Bishop Allan Ewing is the acting bishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

ALLAN EWING: I think that the Anglican communion has always had groups within it who have held to
strong views on particular matters. And in fact, over the last number of decades, there have been
groups who have met separately to discuss particular issues.

I think that one of the things that the GAFCON group is aiming to establish is that this group can
speak with one voice on this particular matter. And that will be both helpful and at times a
hindrance, I think, for the wider Anglican communion.

ASHLEY HALL: He says there were few surprises in the declaration.

ALLAN EWING: I was distressed that in some of the speeches at GAFCON there was a decision to
personally attack the Archbishop and I think that was both wrong and unfair.

ASHLEY HALL: Unchristian, possibly?

ALLAN EWING: I would hesitate to say that, only because over the centuries Christians have done all
sorts of things to each other. It's certainly, I don't think it's right to attack people, when
you're attacking questions of belief or how we as a church might address particular issues.

ASHLEY HALL: Dr Porter accuses the group of underhand tactics.

MURIEL PORTER: This is an attempt to stand over, if you like, the bishops who'll be meeting at
Lambeth, starting in mid-July, trying to bully them, that's the only word I can use, bully them
into going the way that this quite small group of Anglican dissidents want the church to go.

And I think we have to remember, they are a group of dissident Anglicans, very conservative, very
hardline, who want to push the church in a particular direction, but I hope and pray the bishops
and the church in Australia and elsewhere will not agree to. We must not be bullied.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Muriel Porter is a member of the Anglican Church's General Synod and she was
speaking to Ashley Hall.