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Old 08-05-2003, 09:11 PM   #1
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Episcopalians Elect 1st Openly Gay Bishop

Episcopalians Elect 1st Openly Gay Bishop



By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

MINNEAPOLIS - The Episcopal Church voted Tuesday to approve the election of its first openly gay bishop, a decision that risks splitting the denomination and shattering ties with its sister churches worldwide.



After a delay caused by an allegation that he inappropriately touched another man and was affiliated with a Web site that had a link to porn, the Episcopal General Convention approved the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.


Robinson had been cleared of the accusations a few hours before the vote was taken.


Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said the bishops voted 62-45 to confirm Robinson's election. Two bishops abstained from voting, but their ballots under church rules were counted as "no" votes.


American conservatives and like-minded overseas bishops who represent millions of parishioners have said confirming Robinson would force them to consider breaking away from the church.


The Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million members, is the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion.


After the results were announced, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, a conservative who had campaigned against Robinson, stood at the podium in the House of Bishops, surrounded by fellow conservatives, and read a speech saying he and the others were "filled with sorrow."


He said the Episcopal Church has "divided itself from millions of Anglicans throughout the world."


"This body willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony has departed from the historic faith and order of Jesus Christ," he said.


Duncan called on the bishops of the Anglican Communion and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the communion, "to intervene in the pastoral emergency that has overtaken us."


"May God have mercy on this church," Duncan said.


The church has been debating the role of gays for decades. A win by Robinson was expected to build momentum for other policy changes that would be favorable to homosexuals.


The denomination has no official rules either for or against ordaining gays.


Some Episcopal parishes already allow homosexual clergy to serve and gays who did not reveal their sexual orientation have served as bishops. But Robinson is the first clergyman in the Anglican Communion to live openly as a gay man before he was elected.


In 1998, Anglican leaders approved a resolution calling gay sex "incompatible with Scripture." Bishops who hold that view believe that allowing Robinson to serve would be a tacit endorsement of ordaining homosexuals.


Robinson, a 56-year-old divorced father of two, has been living with his male partner for 13 years and serving as an assistant to the current New Hampshire bishop, who is retiring. Parishioners there said they chose Robinson simply because he was the best candidate.


Under church rules, a majority of bishops, clergy and lay people serving as convention delegates had to ratify Robinson's election.





On Sunday, the House of Deputies, a legislative body comprised of clergy and lay people from dioceses nationwide, approved Robinson by a 2-to-1 margin; a committee endorsed him by secret ballot Friday. The House of Bishops voted to do the same.

The final vote had been scheduled for Monday but was delayed at the last minute for an investigation of the claims against Robinson.

Bishop Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts, who conducted the investigation, determined Tuesday that there was no need for a full-blown inquiry and the debate on Robinson proceeded immediately after.

Scruton said the touching incident "was in public view and was brief" and happened at a church meeting where Robinson put his hand on a man's back and arm while engaged in a conversation.

The claim of inappropriate touching was e-mailed to Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely by David Lewis of Manchester, Vt. A family friend said Tuesday that Lewis never intended the allegations to go public. Scruton said Lewis told him he did not want to file a formal complaint.

The other concern was a pornographic link found on a Web site of Outright, a secular outreach program for gay and bisexual youth. Robinson helped found the Concord, N.H., chapter of the group, but Scruton said the clergyman ended his association with the organization in 1998 and "was not aware that the organization has a Web site until this convention."

"In both allegations it is my conclusion that there is no necessity to pursue further investigation," Scruton said in a speech to bishops.

If conservatives do decide to break away, it is unclear what that would mean for the Episcopal Church. Some parishes could split from their dioceses and refuse to recognize clergy who support homosexuality, but stop short of a complete separation.

A full schism would trigger, among other things, bitter fights over parish assets and undercut the global influence of the U.S. church.

Griswold and Williams each issued pleas for unity before the national meeting began.

Those who support a wider role for gays in the church contend that conservatives exaggerated the potential for a split, and note that among the bishops threatening to leave are some who pledged to walk away before over issues such as ordaining women then did not follow through.

But many Episcopalians believe the debate over homosexuality has been more divisive.

Bishops from Africa, Asia and Latin America, representing more than a third of Anglican Communion members worldwide, took the unprecedented step this year of severing relations with a diocese that authorizes same-sex blessings the Diocese of New Westminster, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

One of the leaders in that split was Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which serves 17.5 million people and ranks second in size to the mother Church of England among 38 Anglican branches.

Some conservative American parishes had already formed breakaway movements, such as the Anglican Mission in America, which remains within the Anglican Communion but rejects the Episcopal Church.

The American Anglican Council, which represents conservative Episcopalians, said before Monday's vote that if delegates approved Robinson's election, opponents would hold an "extraordinary meeting" in October to decide their next move.
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Old 08-05-2003, 09:36 PM   #2
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Old 08-05-2003, 10:24 PM   #3
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Old 08-05-2003, 10:29 PM   #4
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the ones who voted yes
on those who threaten to break away...
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Old 08-05-2003, 10:56 PM   #5
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Episcopalians have a history of being more tolerant and inclusive, why is anybody surprised.

The people who are not happy with this were probably not happy when they voted to allow women clergy a while back.

I am sure they could quote chapter and verse why their concept of God was against that, too.
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Old 08-06-2003, 02:06 AM   #6
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Re: Episcopalians Elect 1st Openly Gay Bishop

Quote:
Originally posted by MissVelvetDress_75


Bishops from Africa, Asia and Latin America, representing more than a third of Anglican Communion members worldwide, took the unprecedented step this year of severing relations with a diocese that authorizes same-sex blessings the Diocese of New Westminster, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

One of the leaders in that split was Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which serves 17.5 million people and ranks second in size to the mother Church of England among 38 Anglican branches.
It's notable that, according to the minister at my Episcopal church, a number of the conservative African Bishops either practice or condone polygamy.
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Old 08-06-2003, 09:45 AM   #7
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I've been following this story partly because my gay friends have been interested in it and partly because it's been happening right here in Minneapolis. What really was interesting to me was the "allegations" that came out just as it looked like he was going to be elected. It looked a lot like a last-ditch attempt to smear Robinson's character. Especially when one finds out that the "porn links" allegation was made by his most outspoken opponents and took only a brief investigation to find that Robinson's involvement with the group had ended in 1998 and they hadn't even had a website until 2002. As for the "inappropriate touching" which apparently consisted of a hand on the back and the shoulder...I could make that allegation against many heterosexual ministers.
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Old 08-06-2003, 08:50 PM   #8
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Originally posted by paxetaurora

I'll second that.
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Old 08-07-2003, 07:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4
I've been following this story partly because my gay friends have been interested in it and partly because it's been happening right here in Minneapolis. What really was interesting to me was the "allegations" that came out just as it looked like he was going to be elected. It looked a lot like a last-ditch attempt to smear Robinson's character. Especially when one finds out that the "porn links" allegation was made by his most outspoken opponents and took only a brief investigation to find that Robinson's involvement with the group had ended in 1998 and they hadn't even had a website until 2002. As for the "inappropriate touching" which apparently consisted of a hand on the back and the shoulder...I could make that allegation against many heterosexual ministers.
Exactly (not to mention, those who brought up the idea of those "porn links" probably aren't that innocent themselves).

I don't live in Minnesota, but I have been hearing about this through a Minneapolis station that we get here.

The allegations bit just shows that some people will try anything, won't they?

Deep, your post...yeah, really, no kidding.

Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
the ones who voted yes
on those who threaten to break away...
Ditto.

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Old 08-08-2003, 06:02 PM   #10
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If I were an Episcopalian, I wouldn't want a bishop who left his spouse and kids to be with his new lover.

Before I get flamed horribly, I would like to mention that I did not mention sexual orientation at all in the sentence above.
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Old 08-08-2003, 06:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
If I were an Episcopalian, I wouldn't want a bishop who left his spouse and kids to be with his new lover.

Before I get flamed horribly, I would like to mention that I did not mention sexual orientation at all in the sentence above.
The percentage of clergy, bishops, preachers etc divorce rate is a lot higher than one would think. That's just one of the reasons this is such a double standard. But they will never make a rule that states one cannot be ordained if divorced.
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Old 08-08-2003, 07:10 PM   #12
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


The percentage of clergy, bishops, preachers etc divorce rate is a lot higher than one would think. That's just one of the reasons this is such a double standard. But they will never make a rule that states one cannot be ordained if divorced.
That's really unfortunate. Seems like a lot of people fail to follow the spirit of 1 Timothy 3 seriously.
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Old 08-08-2003, 09:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
If I were an Episcopalian, I wouldn't want a bishop who left his spouse and kids to be with his new lover.

Before I get flamed horribly, I would like to mention that I did not mention sexual orientation at all in the sentence above.
Well, then allow me to make this argument in light of this.

Are there provisions for annullment in the Episopal Church? Needless to say, lying about one's sexual orientation in getting married is actually grounds for an annullment in the Catholic Church. I know that they are different churches, so I don't want to make comparisons / criticisms that cannot be made.

Of course, I cannot help but find this all very ironic, considering that the entire reason that the Anglican / Episcopal Church even exists is because King Henry VIII wanted a divorce that the Catholic Church refused to grant him.

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Old 08-08-2003, 09:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer


That's really unfortunate. Seems like a lot of people fail to follow the spirit of 1 Timothy 3 seriously.
Honestly, people aren't perfect. In an ideal world, there would be no wars, people would get married once, have perfect children, etc. Needless to say, that will never happen. Period.

I'm not saying that religion should whimsically change its standards. At the same time, though, I think religion is unrealistic about its expectations, and, in a quest for perfection, has often created even more hatred and violence and division in its place.

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Old 08-08-2003, 09:16 PM   #15
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In other news...

Australian Archbishop Praises Episcopal Gay Moves
by Peter Hacker

Posted: August 8, 2003 12:02 a.m. ET

(Brisbane, Australia) One of Australia's leading Anglican churchmen has praised American Episcopalians for their decisions on gay issues, including the election of a gay bishop, calling the moves major church rethinks akin to such major decision as opposition to slavery and the dropping of the flat-earth theory.

The Archbishop of Brisbane Dr Phillip Aspinall writing in the latest edition Focus, the official newspaper of the Anglican Church in Australia said the church must always be relevant.

He said the church initially forced Galileo to recant his views on early astronomy and for a large part of the past 2,000 years the church permitted slavery.

In the 1970s and 1980s the church changed its view on the question of whether divorced people should be allowed to remarry and in the 1990s women were allowed to be ordained as clergy.

"This is not simply the church caving in to external pressures to conform to the sinful ways of the world," Dr Aspinall said.

"We believe that in each of these situations the (Holy) Spirit has led the church more deeply into the truth, as Jesus promised would happen.

"I think we must admit the possibility, at least, that a similar process may be unfolding in relation to homosexuality."

Dr Aspinall urged church conservatives around the world who are talking of a schism to take a step back and reflect.

Dr Aspinall said the church needed to use reason and experience to interpret the Bible and tradition.

He said although some sections of the Bible seemed to condemn gay sex, the church needed to recognize that "we do know now more than the biblical authors knew in their age about homosexuality".

"That must be taken into account as must the experience of homosexual people who are committed to Christ and the church and who do not believe they are called to celibacy," Dr Aspinall said.

That view puts him at odds with Sydney Anglican Archbishop Dr Peter Jensen, who has said the Bible clearly condemns homosexual practice and the overseas moves could lead to conservative Anglicans forming a "church within a church".

---------------------------------------

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