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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
Gay bishop reaffirms role

Gene Robinson
There is concern Robinson's consecration could split the Church

The gay Anglican bishop-elect of the US state of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, has reaffirmed his belief his consecration scheduled for 2 November should go ahead.

This is despite a warning from church leaders of the worldwide Anglican community that his status as a homosexual bishop could split the Church.

Canon Robinson, who was addressing a congregation at a church in Manchester, New Hampshire, was chosen by members of his New Hampshire diocese and backed by a majority of US bishops.

He told his highly supportive audience that, despite urging from worldwide Anglican leaders not to go ahead with his consecration, he felt called by God to do so.

'Not responsible'

Some people, he said, felt scared by change but they should not be.

I believe with my whole heart that it is God's will
Canon Gene Robinson

Anglicans disagreed on a lot of issues and, he said, if some people felt obliged to split away on this one subject of homosexuality then, while he would not want this, he could not be held responsible.

Canon Robinson added he believed the Bible does not address the issue of same-sex relationships, but felt there were some who wanted to take historically specific Old Testament texts literally.

In a BBC interview, Canon Robinson admitted that his consecration "will be a moment of crisis for the Anglican communion".

"That doesn't mean we aren't going to learn from it... I'm not fearful, this will be hard, painful for all of us, difficult, but I don't think we need to be fearful of it," he said.

"I believe with my whole heart that it is God's will", he added.

Despite overwhelming support for the bishop-elect in New Hampshire, the opposition is not solely abroad.

There is great concern the US Church will be forced out of the worldwide Anglican communion.

"I'm neither the devil that one side would make me out to be, nor the angel that the other side would make me out to be", Canon Robinson stressed.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Robert Pigott
"It seems that virtually the last chance of keeping the church intact is about to be lost"



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