The worldwide Anglican Church is set to officially break up, with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams drawing up plans to exclude the US Episcopal Church for ordaining a gay priest.

Williams said yesterday that under his new proposal, all churches would be asked to sign a covenant stating they believed in the defining Biblical standards of the Anglican doctrine, UK newspaper The Times reported.

Those liberal churches who refused to sign the doctrine -“ which, apart from the Episcopalians, may include Anglicans in New Zealand, Canada and Scotland -“ would be excluded from full membership of the Church and would instead become associates.

The proposal is expected to be welcomed by conservative Anglican leaders, especially those in Africa and Asia. Conservative parishes in the US have already indicated they want to sign the covenant and be recognised as separate to the rest of the left-leaning Episcopal Church.

Williams announced the plans following the general convention of the Episcopal Church last week, where leaders refused to ban the ordination of gay bishops.

Instead Episcopal leaders agreed on a statement saying they would show restraint when considering future ordinations. Williams and conservatives said this did not go far enough.

What most Anglicans worldwide have said is that it doesn’t help to behave as if the matter had been resolved when in fact it hasn’t, Williams said, The Times reported.

The proposal will be discussed by church leaders later this year.

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