Episcopal bishops threaten break – News – controversy over confirmation of openly gay priest as next bishop of New Hampshire
TWENTY-FOUR Episcopal bishops have threatened to break ties with the national church if an openly gay priest is confirmed as the next bishop of New Hampshire. The bishops said the June election of V. Gene Robinson to the New Hampshire post symbolizes a church “desperately confused, errant and disintegrating.”
To become the Anglican world’s first publicly known gay bishop, Robinson needs to be certified by delegates and bishops at the church’s July 30-August 8 General Convention meeting in Minneapolis. Of the 24 objecting bishops, seven are retired and will not be among more than 100 bishops voting on Robinson’s status.
If, in addition, bishops and other delegates approve the development of blessings for same-sex couples, the two actions would be “unparalleled departures” from church teaching, said the July 15 letter from the dissenters. The letter, released by the conservative American Anglican Council, appealed for guidance from certain overseas Anglican leaders, who said in June that their communion with the bishop of Vancouver had been “impaired” after his decision to allow same-sex blessings. The 24 bishops also said: “We do hereby affirm the moral and spiritual authority of you, the ‘Concerned Primates’ of the Anglican Communion, and do join in commitment with you to address the situation under your leadership. We desire to act in concert with you, and are ready to take counsel from you.”
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold responded in an open letter to all primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion, asserting that theological and biblical interpretations may vary without “impairing” communion among committed Christians. “Communion on this earth is always in some way impaired, both because of our limited understanding of God’s ways and our own human sinfulness,” Griswold said in his letter released July 22 in New York.
Robinson’s clear-cut election in New Hampshire, “though profoundly disturbing to a number of Episcopalians, is not surprising given that increasingly in our part of the world there is an acknowledgment that some men and women find that their deepest affections” are with members of the same sex, Griswold wrote.
It was unknown what action the dissenting bishops might take. One conservative official said the bishops could affiliate with a like-minded overseas bishop and refuse to obey the American hierarchy. A less serious scenario would involve the bishops declaring themselves at odds with the rest of the church without leaving it.
Some 50 conservative leaders, including three bishops from Africa, vowed a “dramatic realignment” of the church during a preconvention gathering July 23 in Fairfax, Virginia.
The dissenting U.S. bishops are among the leaders of church conservatives, including Edward Salmon of South Carolina, James Stanton of Dallas, Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, Gethin Hughes of San Diego, Keith Ackerman of Quincy, Illinois, and John-David Schofield of San Joaquin, California.
Writing to other primates, Griswold said he has “continually reminded” the U.S. church that what is done locally may have consequences globally. Yet, he said, “I am mindful that each of us has to interpret the gospel in our own context and within the particular reality of our own province.”–RNS
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Christian Century Foundation
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group