- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

11:12 a.m.

LONDON — Two bishops at the heart of the U.S. Episcopal Church’s divisions over sexuality and Scripture will not be invited to next year’s global gathering of Anglican prelates, the archbishop of Canterbury’s office said today.

Bishops V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and Martyn Minns of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America were not among more than 850 bishops invited, said Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Robinson was the first Anglican bishop to be openly living in a same-sex relationship, and his election in 2003 opened a huge rift between the liberal and conservative wings of the church.

Bishop Minns was installed on May 5 in Woodbridge, Va., by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, the most outspoken of the numerous Anglican critics of Bishop Robinson’s elevation.

Bishop Robinson may be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference as a guest, but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is not contemplating inviting Bishop Minns, Canon Kearon said.

“The question of Gene Robinson … I think has exercised the archbishop of Canterbury’s mind for quite some time,” he said, and there was no question that Bishop Robinson was duly elected and consecrated a bishop according to the rules of the Episcopal Church.

“However, for the archbishop to simply give full recognition at this conference would be to ignore the very substantial and very widespread objections in many parts of the communion to his consecration and to his ministry,” Canon Kearon said.

Bishop Robinson said Archbishop Williams’ decision was a “great disappointment.”

“At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a ‘listening process’ on the issue of homosexuality, how does it make sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the discussion?” Bishop Robinson said in a statement released by his office.

“This is not about Gene Robinson, nor the Diocese of New Hampshire,” he added. “It is about the American church. It is for the Episcopal Church to respond to this divide-and-conquer challenge to our polity, and in due time, I assume we will do so.”

The conference, generally held every 10 years and covering all sorts of topics, will take place at the University of Kent in England from July 16 to Aug. 4, 2008.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, had also been informed of the invitation decision, Canon Kearon said.

He said Archbishop Williams had expressed his displeasure about Archbishop Akinola’s intention to consecrate Rev. Minns as a bishop. “There is no question that he (Rev. Minns) is a bishop, but his consecration is not regular,” Canon Kearon said.

“I am not aware of any intention to invite him as a guest. It is a very different situation,” he added.

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