Episcopal Bishop Sanctions Virginia Priests

August 3, 2007

Conservative priests reacted dismissively after Virginia Bishop Peter Lee told them he was defrocking them.

Lee says that he's taking action against 20 priests for abandoning the church in a dispute over theological interpretations, church authority and homosexuality.

Friday the priests said that Lee can't defrock them because they are no longer under his authority. They compared his actions to firing an employee who already quit.

19 Virginia churches have split from the Episcopal Church and have looked to realign under more conservative Anglican bishops in Africa. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Controversy has surrounded the U.S. branch for years because of consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

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