Anglican Head Admits Gay Bishop Ordination Hurtful

The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA)’s decision to consecrate an openly gay man as bishop critically hurt the unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams admitted on Thursday.

"There are no cost-free decisions ... there will be no cost-free outcome from this," said Williams during a meeting of the bishops on Thursday.

"The effects are serious and they are hurtful," he said "Part of the cost involved in the repercussions of recent events is that it has weakened, if not destroyed, the sense that we are actually talking the same language."

Williams, who in the past expressed “grief” over the dissensions that arose in light of the ECUSA’s unilateral decision to consecrate an active homosexual as bishop in 2003, for the first time admitted that the entire 70 million member communion is in danger of falling apart.

"Not having a common language, a common frame of reference, has been one of the casualties of recent events and there is every indication that that is not going to get better in a hurry," Williams said.

Following the ECUSA’s decision, nearly two-thirds of the communion’s worldwide members severed their relationship and fellowship with the American branch; more conservative voices called for the expulsion of the ECUSA from the communion, lest it repent and turn back to the traditional Anglican ways.

Havoc was prevalent domestically as well: offerings to the denominations shot down more than 12 percent over the last year, dozens of parishes formed their own mini-alliance to protest the consecration of the gay bishop Gene Robinson, several churches rejected the jurisdiction of the Episcopal church and realigned with more conservative African churches, and still other parishes left the denomination completely.

Despite such widespread ruptures via Gene Robinson’s ordination, Canterbury never stood on the side of conservatives by denouncing the ECUSA’s decision. Rather, on Thursday, as other days, he expressed grief over the consequences of the decision.

"There are consequences in hurt, misunderstanding, rupture and damage. It does us no good to pretend that the cost is not real,” said Williams.

William’s view largely reflects that of the Windsor Report, a yearlong report that addresses the affects of homosexuality in the Communion, which ultimately said liberals should stop ordaining homosexual bishops and conservatives should stop threatening to break away.

"The deep sense of lost-ness and confusion that arises from that and the anger that arises from that is something that does not in any sense help ... our search for truth together," Williams told the Synod.

"We are not talking about an attempt to repress debate or constrain conscience. We are attempting, I think, to identify what sort of actions appear to pre-empt such discussion and by doing so to destroy the sense of common language," he added.