LONDON – A senior Church of England bishop has urged the Anglican Communion to face up to the controversial issue of homosexuality in the Church at this year's landmark Lambeth Conference.
The Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, the bishop of Manchester, said it would be "odd" and "irresponsible" if there were no plans for a major public debate on the issue of gay clergy.
According to The Daily Telegraph, he suggested that the conference was sweeping the issue "under the carpet."
The Lambeth Conference, which is only convened once every ten years, has been embroiled in controversy with consistent rumors that many bishops will boycott the event in protest at the Anglican church body's apparent loosening stance on homosexuality.
Despite the threat of schism within the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue, there are no plans for a public debate on the matter at the landmark conference, and much of the conference will be taking place privately.
The bishop of Manchester criticized fellow bishops who are threatening to boycott the meeting in protest over the presence of leaders from The Episcopal Church at the conference. The Episcopal Church, the U.S. arm of Anglicanism, has been one of the most liberal branches in the communion, and in 2003 ordained the first openly gay bishop in Anglican Church history.
The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, has spoken of his hope to maintain unity within the communion, and how the Lambeth Conference is a vital event to cement this. However, many boycotting bishops are now planning an alternative gathering in Jerusalem just a few weeks before the Lambeth Conference takes place in England.
"However deep family arguments and differences are, we ought to be following the New Testament pattern of meeting together to pray, to learn, to eat and to share," commented McCulloch in his diocesan magazine.
"The first Lambeth Conference was called in the wake of controversy; and it would be exceedingly odd – even irresponsible – for the bishops to avoid, and appear to sweep under the carpet, the very issues that are currently inhibiting our common witness to Christ across the world."