A panel of Episcopal bishops has advised the church against blessing same-sex unions because members are so divided on the issue of homosexuality.
In a report delivered this week after 18 months of study, a group of six bishops and seven theologians urged "the greatest caution" as the church considers whether to sanction gay unions and gay ordination.
"Because at this time we are nowhere near consensus in the church regarding the blessing of homosexual relationships, we cannot recommend authorizing the development of new rites for such blessings," the report said.
The report probably will affect the debate on homosexual unions as the church prepares for its triennial General Convention meeting this summer.
When the church last met in 2000, delegates voted to "support" lifelong, non-married relationships.