The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., withdrew its invitation Wednesday for the Episcopalian Diocese to use one of its churches for a ceremony because the pro-gay leader of the Episcopalian Church was slated to attend. The local Catholic diocese rescinded the invitation after Frank Griswold, the
presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, defended in a news article the church's confirmation of a gay bishop and argued that the Bible does not condemn same-sex relationships. Bishop Victor Galeone said he "felt a good number of his people would be offended to learn that an Episcopalian bishop, that holds a position that is radically opposed to what both the church and scripture teach about homosexuality, is
using one of our facilities," according to Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, a spokeswoman for the local Catholic diocese, in a statement.
The Episcopalian Diocese, based in nearby Jacksonville, had planned to use St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church for the installation ceremony of a new bishop, Samuel Howard, on November 1. After learning of Griswold's comments and that he would be attending, Galeone "regrettably revoked" the invitation. The Episcopal Diocese of Florida did not return telephone or E-mail messages Wednesday evening.
In a Monday interview with the Associated Press, Griswold defended his confirmation of bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson, the church's first openly gay bishop, and defended homosexuality, saying it was not fully understood in biblical times. "Discrete acts of homosexuality" were condemned in the Bible because they were acts of lust instead of the "love, forgiveness, grace" of committed same-sex relationships, he said. "Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible." Griswold's comments come at a time when the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church is in danger of splitting over the decision to confirm Robinson. Next week the conservative American Anglican Council will meet in Dallas to decide whether to break away from the denomination.