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Archbishop Gilbert McDowell, 66; Leader of Anglican Church

From Times Wire Reports

Archbishop Gilbert McDowell, 66, leader of the traditionalist United Anglican Church, died Friday in Rome after attending the 25th anniversary celebrations for Pope John Paul II. Initial medical reports said only that he died of natural causes.

Based in Palm Harbor, Fla., McDowell headed the conservative group, which 30 years ago severed ties with the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Church headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

McDowell and his College of Bishops had issued a statement in August opposing the recognition of homosexual unions and the idea of allowing gay men to be deacons, priests or bishops. Rifts have widened in the Anglican Church over the planned consecration of an openly gay bishop.

McDowell had visited the Vatican several times in recent years to work on rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church.

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