updated 10/25/2009 8:17:32 PM ET 2009-10-26T00:17:32

A conservative group of Anglican bishops are pushing for change in their own churches rather than suggesting the faithful turn to Rome.

The Global South alliance, made up of theologically conservative primates from developing countries, said Sunday in a statement on their Web site that a proposed Anglican Covenant — a shared set of guidelines for membership in the Anglican church — should be adopted.

The statement comes in the wake of an announcement earlier this week by the Vatican, saying that Pope Benedict XVI had authorized an Apostolic Constitution. The constitution would allow Anglicans to move to the Catholic church, but keep their own liturgy and married priests.

In a statement posted to their Web site, the group said they appreciated the pope's stance on the "common biblical teaching on human sexuality" but "at the same time we believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant sets the necessary parameters.

"It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God's divine purposes," the statement reads.

The Global South group is headed by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola.

There are about 77 million Anglicans around the world. The church has been in turmoil since 2003, when the U.S. Episcopal Church consecrated New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop.

It is uncertain how many Anglicans will seek to switch churches because of the pope's new policy. The Right Rev. John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, has said about 1,000 Church of England clergy will seek to join the Roman Catholic Church. Broadhurst chairs Forward in Faith, a group of traditionalists opposed to the ordination of women.

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