Episcopal bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man elevated to that rank in any major Christian body, said Tuesday that the Episcopal Church will survive the tumult surrounding his election. But Anglican leaders throughout the world have already moved closer to a break with the denomination. Robinson acknowledged that some who oppose ordaining gays will leave the Episcopal Church, but he said he's holding out hope they will return in the future. "I think we'll have a few bumpy years," Robinson said in an interview on NBC's Today. "It's nothing to be afraid of. The church is always in some sort of crisis...[but] this is a crisis that's going to get us somewhere."
On Monday overseas bishops who said they represent 50 million of the world's 77 million Anglicans jointly announced that they are in a "state of impaired communion" with the Episcopal Church--a step short of declaring a full schism. Episcopalians form the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.
Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the 17.5 million-member Anglican Church of Nigeria, the largest Anglican province outside England, went even further in an interview on Nigerian state radio. He said he would boycott all meetings at the global level attended by the Episcopal Church. "We can no longer claim to be in the same communion," Akinola said. "We cannot go to them, and they cannot come to us. We will not share communion.... We have come to the end of the road."
Anglican leaders in Asia, Africa, and Latin America who believe homosexuality violates Scripture have been warning for months that consecrating Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire would fracture the Anglican Communion. The ceremony was held Sunday, and Robinson, who has lived openly with a male partner for 14 years, will take leadership of the diocese on March 7.
Robinson appeared on Today with his partner, Mark Andrew, and one of his daughters, Ella Robinson. "I feel unbelievably blessed," the bishop said.