- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Episcopal House of Bishops agreed to express “regret” yesterday for the church’s 2003 consecration of a homosexual bishop but refused to set a moratorium on either such consecrations or church-sanctioned blessings of same-sex unions.

Instead, 140 bishops meeting in Salt Lake City asked for more time to debate the matter at their meeting in March.

Twenty-one bishops immediately dissented, led by Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, who approached the microphone to note that “the Episcopal Church USA often uses graceful language but our behavior [‘the politics of power’] contradicts the words.”

In response, he said, the 21 bishops would sign a statement of “submission,” promising to make only decisions with which the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is one part, agrees.

“The response of the House of Bishops did not rise to level expected by the Communion,” said South Carolina Bishop Edward Salmon, one of the signers. “We heard a call for submission, and we who are unequivocally prepared to submit have responded accordingly.”

No local bishops in the dioceses of Washington, Maryland or Virginia immediately signed the dissenting statement.

The 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire was heavily criticized last fall in a “Windsor Report” issued in London. The denomination was instructed to cease performing the blessing ceremonies and consecrations until “some consensus” was reached with other Anglicans.

A statement released by the House of Bishops did express “our sincere regret for the pain, the hurt, and the damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection by certain actions of our church.”

However, it added, the decision to elect Bishop Robinson was made by the entire Episcopal denomination at its triennial meeting in Minneapolis in August 2003, a decision the House of Bishops cannot undo.

Moreover, the statement said, Presiding Episcopal Bishop Frank Griswold had already established a committee to offer a theological explanation of how “a person living in a same-gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ.”

Next month in Ireland, more than 30 Anglican archbishops will meet to discuss the Windsor Report and yesterday’s response from Episcopal bishops.

Dissenting bishops included Harry Scriven of Pittsburgh; David Bena of Albany, N.Y.; Gethin Hughes of San Diego, Calif.; Keith Ackerman of Quincy, Mass.; John Howe of central Florida; William Skilton of South Carolina; James Adams of western Kansas; Stephen Jecko and James Stanton of Dallas; Daniel Herzog of Albany, N.Y.; and Bertram Herlong of Tennessee.

Also signing were Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Texas; James Folts and Gary Lillibridge of western Texas; Don Wimberly of Texas; John David Schofield of San Joaquin, Calif.; Bruce MacPherson of western Louisiana; Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Mo.; and William Frey, the retired bishop of Colorado.

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