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Episcopal leader admits regret over gay bishop vote

Episcopal leader admits regret over gay bishop vote

The retiring Episcopal bishop of Colorado said he regrets supporting the election of the nation's first openly gay bishop because the church was not ready for it. Bishop Jerry Winterrowd, who will retire December 31, said he voted to confirm the Reverend Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire because he had been convinced each diocese had the right to elect its own leader. "Subsequently, I would say that I am on very thin ice there," Winterrowd said on Thursday. Winterrowd said he supports same-sex blessings. But he said some people have come to perceive the election of Robinson, who is in a committed relationship with another man, as tacit approval of same sex-blessings. "Personally, I favor [Robinson's ordination]. But this diocese, and the whole American church, was not ready for that, and a lot of damage has been done." Parishioners at Colorado's largest Episcopal church, Grace and St. Stephen's Church in Colorado Springs, are expected to withhold $115,000 from the diocese this year and next to protest Robinson's confirmation and the blessing of same-sex unions. The money will be spent instead on "orthodox ministries" outside the parish, the church's rector, the Reverend Donald Armstrong, said in August. Winterrowd's successor, Rob O'Neill, said he won't move ahead with developing a new liturgy for same-sex blessings in Colorado. Many Episcopalians believed a document approved by the denomination's General Convention in August opened the door for dioceses to develop such rites--basically, providing a local option. But O'Neill said he believes the resolution does not sanction such liturgies. He said language calling for the establishment of a national liturgy was removed. "The spirit of that was to make it a moderate statement, but people didn't realize the door had been opened in phraseology," O'Neill said. "That document also calls for substantive theological discussion of what it really means to bless same-gender unions, and I think we have a lot of work to do in the life of the church around that issue."

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