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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 July, 2003, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
US gay bishop asks for blessing
Gene Robinson
Canon Robinson said leaving his wife was his greatest risk
United States clergyman Canon Gene Robinson - the first openly gay Anglican bishop to be elected - has called on the Church of England to bless his appointment.

"Relationships that are mutual and loving, relationships that are monogamous, life-long intentioned and faithful - that's what the church is about to bless I hope," he told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The Church of England threatened to split over the recent appointment to the post of Bishop of Reading of the gay priest Canon Jeffrey John, who was forced to step down.

But Canon Robinson of New Hampshire said even if Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams did not give his personal blessing, his appointment would go ahead.

"I would hope some day that he would acknowledge this as a good and positive step in the right direction...[but] I don't believe that his blessing is prerequisite to us taking action here," he said.

Practising homosexual

Unlike Canon John, Canon Robinson says he is not celibate.

"I think it's important to understand that celibacy is a gift given to some but certainly not to all," he told the BBC.

GAY BISHOP ROW
Canon Jeffrey John who was forced to resign as Bishop-elect of Reading

"I would say it's not God's intention for all gay and lesbian people to be celibate, just as it's not that gift given to all those who are heterosexual."

Canon Robinson says he left his wife when God called him to acknowledge himself as a gay man.

He describes that decision as the biggest risk of his life, but says he has been rewarded by the love of a wonderful partner with whom he has lived for the past 13 years.

Canon Robinson has served the diocese of New Hampshire for nearly 30 years and is considered eminently qualified to be a bishop.

But his election could have a major impact on the wider Anglican communion.

The Canon has been reportedly described as "the most dangerous man in the American church".

Some 24 conservative bishops in the US have threatened to join others in Asia, Africa and South America to break ties with thier diocese if the appointment goes ahead.




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