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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Gay US bishop: I will not resign
By Jane Little
BBC religious affairs correspondent

Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson became the ninth Bishop of New Hampshire
The gay bishop at the heart of the Anglican Communion crisis has told the BBC he regrets the pain caused by his consecration but he will not resign.

Gene Robinson was responding to a report which called on the American Church to apologise for consecrating him last November as a bishop.

A senior Nigerian Anglican leader has condemned the report as unbalanced.

Archbishop Peter Akinola accused liberals of being "hell bent" on destroying the Anglican communion.

Gene Robinson welcomed what he called a "remarkable report" and he said he and his diocese accepted its call for an expression of regret.

"None of us were truly aware of the difficulty this would cause other parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion and it's perfectly appropriate for us certainly to offer our expression of regret for the pain that our actions caused," he said.

But he added that he would not resign for the sake of unity.

He described his consecration as a prophetic move led by the Holy Spirit.

And, asked whether it had not been a catastrophe for the worldwide church - which is on the verge of schism - he turned the tables on the conservatives.

"Intemperate language from archbishops in the Anglican Communion calling gays and lesbians lower than dogs and saying my consecration was a satanic attack on God's church - that's catastrophic when we treat one another like that."

Heading for schism?

The man who made these statements, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, has become the first primate to condemn the report.

Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola
Archbishop Akinola is ready to split the Anglican Communion

He said it fell short of the prescription of "full repentance" needed for the church.

And he rejected the report's call on conservatives to apologise for interfering in other provinces.

As the leader of a quarter of the world's Anglicans, Archbishop Akinola has huge influence.

He recently visited America to explore the possibility of serving as an alternative bishop to disaffected Anglicans.

He has pointedly warned that you don't need to go through Canterbury - the historic centre of Anglicanism - to get to Jesus.

Next week he chairs a meeting of 30 African bishops in Lagos, Nigeria who will respond to the report.

The differences - over homosexuality, the Bible and culture - appear too wide to bridge, and the Anglican Communion seems to be heading for a permanent split.

Gene Robinson regrets that.

"I want to be in Archbishop Kalona's church, I just wish he would want me to be in his."

Hear the gay bishop at the heart of the crisis

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