- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2007

From combined dispatches

The Episcopal Church’s first practicing homosexual bishop, whose consecration has brought the world’s Anglicans to the brink of schism, said yesterday that the U.S. church should not give in to demands that it roll back its pro-homosexual stances.

New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson issued two statements that said Episcopalians should set aside the Anglican Communion’s request even at the risk of losing their place in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

He said in one of the statements, specifically addressed to fellow homosexuals, that acceptance of the communion’s request would make the Episcopal Church “a church that is willing to sacrifice the lives and ministries and dignity of its gay and lesbian members on the altar of unity.”

They were Bishop Robinson’s first public statements on an ultimatum that Anglican leaders issued last week during a meeting in Tanzania. They gave the U.S. denomination until Sept. 30 to pledge absolutely not to consecrate another homosexual bishop or authorize blessing ceremonies for homosexual couples. If it doesn’t, the church risks a much-reduced role in the Anglican family of churches that trace its roots back to the Church of England.

“The primates have the right to make requests of us (never mind the threatening tone of those requests). We do not have to accede to those requests in exactly the terms in which they are made,” Bishop Robinson said.

Bishop Robinson reminded his readers that “we are engaged in the beginning of the end of patriarchy.”

“Did any of us believe that such a battle would be won without resistance? Did any of us believe there would be no more bumps in the road? Did any of us foresee smooth sailing into the future?”

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of world Anglicanism.

Bishop Robinson’s comments were a direct criticism of Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has been regarded as pro-homosexual but left the Tanzania meeting saying the denomination should make concessions “for a season” until relationships with fellow Anglicans can be healed.

Bishop Jefferts Schori supports ordaining open homosexuals and voted to confirm Bishop Robinson in 2003; but, noting that the season of Lent was beginning, she said Anglican leaders were asking for a “fast” by both sides in the debate. Conservative Anglican leaders have been asked to stop crossing into Episcopal territory to take control of breakaway conservative parishes.

In the other statement, Bishop Robinson said homosexuals were being asked to sacrifice much more than others. He compared conservative Anglicans to the Pharisees, and said Jesus would never have been asked to halt His ministries out of sensitivity to the Pharisees.

“How will we explain this ‘forbearance’ to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to the Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them at God’s table, not simply beneath it, hoping for fallen scraps?” he wrote.

Meeting these latest demands of the primates may not even avert a communionwide split, so Episcopalians should decide on their own time about homosexuality, he said.

“Does anyone believe that our full compliance with the primates’ demands, our complete denunciation of our gay and lesbian members or my removal as bishop would make all this go away?” he asked.

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