NEW YORK (AP) - Episcopal bishops meeting privately in Texas have rejected demands from the world's Anglicans that they provide an alternate leader for conservatives who oppose ordaining gays - a move that brings the church to the brink of expulsion from the Anglican Communion.
In the strongest and most direct language yet defending their support for gay relationships, the bishops said that accepting a second leader for traditionalists would violate Episcopal church law and the founding principles of the church.
"We cannot accept what would be injurious to the church and could well lead to its permanent division," the bishops said in the resolution.
Last month, Anglican leaders emerged from a meeting in Tanzania with an ultimatum for the U.S. denomination. They gave Episcopalians until Sept. 30 to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize official prayers for same-sex couples. Otherwise, they said, the church risked a much-reduced role in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.
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