The head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is said to have pleaded with US bishops to end their pro-gay stance in an attempt to avoid a global split within the 77 million strong Church.

Williams met privately with Episcopal leaders in New Orleans for seven hours on Thursday.

The US arm of the Anglican church has taken a more liberal leaning towards the scriptures – culminating in the consecration of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

This act sparked off a feud with more conservative Anglican churches – primarily those in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The latest meeting is said to have focussed largely on the issue of gays and lesbians in the Church, including discussions on what the scriptures say on the subject.

A deadline of September 30 has been previously set, by which the Americans must commit to not consecrating gay clergy or officially blessing same sex relationships through prayer services for gay couples.

If they do not meet the deadline, they could be expelled from the global Anglican body.

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