CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The election of an openly homosexual bishop will widen the rift in the Episcopal church over homosexuality, observers said yesterday.
The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, 56, was elected bishop of New Hampshire on Saturday in a vote of Episcopal clergy and lay church members. Mr. Robinson divorced the mother of his two children and now lives with a male lover.
The Rev. David L. Moyer, president of Forward in Faith, an association of Anglicans who oppose the ordination of women, said Mr. Robinson’s election will cause a greater division within the church nationally and internationally.
“They are leading with their chin,” Mr. Moyer said. “I think either they aren’t concerned with their legionship with the … larger church or they’re asking to be dismissed by the Anglican community.”
Mr. Moyer, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, called Mr. Robinson’s election an open rebellion against God’s created order and the teachings of the church. He said the greatest outcry will come from Anglicans in developing countries, especially in Africa.
“Here is the First World basically thumbing our noses at the majority of the members of the Anglican community around the world,” he said. “These are the churches that are growing by leaps and bounds, where people are dying for this faith. The cost of Christianity is very, very high in Africa.”
The Anglican Communion represents 77 million people worldwide, including 2.3 million members of the Episcopal Church in the United States. In 1998 the Anglican Communion approved a resolution calling homosexual behavior “incompatible with Scripture.”
Lawrence Knapp of Pittsburgh, who was a deputy at the General Convention six times and a church administrator for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, supported the election, but said it will upset many in the church.
“I think it will be very painful for many people,” he said. “I’m in a very conservative diocese, and I know there will be a lot of unhappiness here.”