Conservative Anglican bishops to sign anti-gay pact

Kigali, Rwanda - Conservative Anglican bishops largely drawn from developing countries are expected to agree on a pact condemning the ordination of gay clergy, Nigeria's archbishop said on Wednesday.

The agreement, expected to be signed later this week by clerics from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia meeting in Rwanda, is likely to deepen rifts between the conservatives mainly from the "Global South" and liberals in the United States and Europe.

"In order to put to rest this issue of homosexuality, we are working on an Anglican covenant with provisions that very clearly say what it means to be an Anglican," Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola, told reporters.

"Who ever subscribes to this covenant must abide by it and those who are unable to subscribe to it will walk out."

The Anglican Communion, a loose federation of 38 national churches, has struggled since 2003 to hold together its liberal minority and the conservative majority vigorously opposed to the naming of a gay bishop in the United States.

The church leaders are also expected to lay down strategies in the pact to increase financial independence by scaling back support from richer congregations in the West.

Rifts in the Anglican Church have been building up for years over disputed issues including women's ordination, but deepened in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in the United States.