The gay Episcopal bishop at the center of the debate over homosexuality that has riven the global Anglican Communion said Wednesday he is sorry conservatives are upset by his consecration but added that he has no regrets about his groundbreaking elevation to the church's leadership.
Bishop V. Gene Robinson, in an Associated Press interview, also said he is committed to working with those who opposed his confirmation to see how they can remain together in the fellowship of churches, despite differences over what the Bible says about gays. Robinson is the first openly gay priest to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion. "We regret how difficult this made things in many parts of the communion," said Robinson, who leads the diocese of New Hampshire. "Certainly, I do not regret that my becoming a bishop has been a real blessing to me and my diocese."
Robinson's comments came two days after an Anglican commission set up to study ways to maintain unity within the communion said the U.S. church should apologize for having elected Robinson without consulting more communion members. The report, released Monday in London, did not comment on Robinson personally or ask him to resign, and it recommended no punishment for the Episcopal Church, as conservatives had demanded. The Episcopal Church, with 2.4 million members, is the U.S. province of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, which traces its roots to the Church of England.
The commission did ask Anglican provinces for a moratorium on electing gay bishops and developing liturgies for same-sex blessing ceremonies. Robinson said he anticipated that gay clergy would agree to the moratorium on becoming candidates for bishop, but he did not think they should be required to do so. "If they feel called, I think they should put their names forward," he said.
Anglican leaders worldwide will spend months studying the report's recommended solutions for ending the rift. Robinson said he did not expect any reconciliation "in my lifetime" of those with opposing biblical views on homosexuality. Still, he said, he hopes conservatives will be open to exploring how to remain in the same church. Some U.S. conservatives have already broken from the Episcopal Church, while others have formed a network of dioceses and congregations that they call a "church within a church," in opposition to Episcopal leaders. "If the conservatives choose not to remain at the table, I don't know what can be done about that," Robinson said. "What I'm saying is that I'm going to be
at the table. The American church is going to be at the table."