- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

The Episcopal bishop of Washington yesterday predicted that Episcopalians would elect their first openly homosexual bishop at the national convention next month and also should approve a liturgical rite for same-sex “marriages.”

“We’ve been discussing the issue of same-sex blessings since 1972 in the Episcopal Church,” Bishop John Chane told 60 Episcopalians at an evening prayer service at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Glenn Dale. “I think we’ve spent enough time discussing. For those who say our theology is thin, I would respond to that and say, ‘Your faith is thin and your fear is thick.’”

If conservatives protest, so be it, he said.

“There may be some bishops who walk off the floor of the house,” he said. “We’re going to see some hissy fits. We’ll see a lot of strange behavior.”

St. George’s is pastored by the Rev. Michael Hopkins, a homosexual priest who presides over Integrity, a 2,500-member Episcopal homosexual caucus.

Bishop Chane was referring to the most serious crisis to hit Episcopalians in decades. On June 7, the Rev. Gene Robinson became the world’s first openly homosexual bishop-elect in the Anglican Communion — of which the Episcopal Church is part — when the Diocese of New Hampshire elected him on the second ballot. Canon Robinson left his wife and two young daughters in 1986 and moved in with another man.

A majority of Episcopal dioceses and their bishops voting at this summer’s General Convention in Minneapolis must give consent to the election of Canon Robinson as bishop. Bishop Chane said he will win easily.

“This church cannot not affirm the valid election of a person I think in everyone’s opinion is called to be the bishop of New Hampshire,” he said.

Delegates at the same convention also will vote on a resolution to approve a liturgical rite for same-sex unions.

“You vote Gene Robinson in, then the next step logically is to address the issue of the [liturgical] texts,” Bishop Chane said.

Louie Crew, an Episcopal homosexual activist and faculty member at Rutgers University, has announced he will run for the presidency of the House of Deputies, one of two decision-making bodies at the General Convention.

Conservatives already are gnashing their teeth.

“If Gene Robinson’s election is confirmed by General Convention, it would bring through the back door a practice that the Episcopal Church has never agreed to approve through the front door,” said a recent statement by the Rt. Revs. Edward Salmon Jr. and William J. Skilton, bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

“We do not have a theology for same-sex relationships, and to agree to the Robinson election would be tacitly to sanction relationships still searching for a theology. We do not believe such a theology is possible without doing violence to Holy Scripture.”

African bishops, most of whom are theologically conservative and whose congregations make up half of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, are crying foul over the sheer numbers of homosexual clergy being appointed to top posts in England and the United States. They condemn American and Canadian dioceses for moving ahead with same-sex rites, with or without denominational approval.

“Many of us … feel that the global North still seeks to retain its disproportionate power and influence in our church, just as in the world,” the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, archbishop of Nigeria, said on May 30. “Do we not see here, in the ready assertion of superior wisdom, a new imperialism?”

In late May, the world’s 38 Anglican primates (archbishops) met in Gramado, Brazil, to issue a pastoral letter forbidding same-sex rites. Bishops who break this understanding should be rebuked and ejected from the Anglican Communion, they said in a report, “True Union in the Body,” written by the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, archbishop of the West Indies.

No sooner were the prelates headed home than the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster in Vancouver, British Columbia, allowed a homosexual “marriage” to be performed in a parish church. Although two U.S. dioceses, Kansas and Delaware, have authorized similar “blessings,” only the Canadians have moved ahead with the rite openly.

To date, 16 Anglican archbishops from India, Africa, Asia, South America and the West Indies have broken off relations with New Westminster.

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