Gay Episcopalian saddened by bishop's withdrawal

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 08 2003 11:00 PM ET

An openly gay man elected as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire said Monday that his heart goes out to a gay clergyman in England who is withdrawing his name from a bishop appointment there. The Reverend Jeffrey John recently declined the post of bishop of Reading. In a letter he said he made the decision because of "the damage my consecration might cause to the unity of the Church, including the Anglican Communion." John has said he is in a long-term relationship with another man but that he has been celibate since the 1990s and would uphold church policy on sexuality. Several Anglican bishops wrote to oppose John's selection in May, saying the appointment violated church teaching that gay sex is "incompatible with Scripture."

In New Hampshire, the Reverend Gene Robinson "is sorry for Canon John and his partner that they had to go through this process and his heart goes out to them," said Mike Barwell, a spokesman for Robinson, on Monday. Unlike John, who was appointed, Robinson was elected by the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7. "It's an open election," Barwell said. "It's a different process." Episcopalians from around the country are scheduled to gather in Minneapolis for a convention starting July 28 to decide if they will ratify Robinson's election. Some bishops have been openly opposed to Robinson's selection, but others said they haven't decided how they will vote. Robinson has said he's optimistic about his chances and hopes that the convention delegates will cast their ballots for a person, not an issue.

The Anglican Communion represents 77 million people worldwide, including 2.3 million members of the Episcopal Church in the United States. In 1998 the Anglican Communion approved a resolution calling gay sex "incompatible with Scripture."