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CHURCH OF ENGLAND SAYS IT WON'T ORDAIN GAYS AS PRIESTS

The Archbishop of Canterbury said Saturday that Church of England bishops would not be stampeded into liberalizing their policy on homosexuality.

Archbishop George Carey, leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans, dismissed as unfounded any suggestions that the church might soon allow practicing homosexuals to be ordained priests or accept same-sex relationships as equal to marriage."Such speculation is misleading and causes unwarranted suspicion and anxieties," he told a church conference. "It (the church) will not be stampeded into changing its theological position or its pastoral practice."

Carey's comments followed the promotion to the church's second most senior post of Bishop David Hope, who recently described his sexuality as "in a gray area" but stressed he was celibate.

Several other senior churchmen have acknowledged their homosexual orientation following an "outing" campaign by the gay-rights activist group Outrage, which accuses the church of hypocrisy.

Current Church of England teaching says lay people in a "close, loving and faithful same-sex partnership" should be accepted by fellow Christians. But homosexual clergy could not "claim the liberty" to enter into a sexually active relationship."