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Robinson comment
regarding pope stirs controversy

Robinson comment
regarding pope stirs controversy

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop insisted Wednesday he was not encouraging Roman Catholics to leave their church when he criticized its view of gays during a recent speech in London. New Hampshire bishop V. Gene Robinson, at a service Friday commemorating the 10th anniversary of Changing Attitude, a British group that advocates full inclusion of gays in the Anglican faith community, noted during his talk that many Catholics in his home state were becoming Episcopalian. "Pope Ratzinger may be the best thing that ever happened to the Episcopal Church," Robinson said, referring to former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI. But Robinson said in a phone interview Wednesday from New Hampshire that he was recounting what a Catholic woman told him about why she was joining the Protestant denomination--not expressing his own opinion. He said the woman was disappointed that the successor to Pope John Paul II would probably not make any significant changes in Catholic teaching. Robinson said he had commented on Catholic issues in response to a question from a gay Catholic struggling with his place in his church. Catholic teaching considers gay sex "intrinsically disordered." Robinson said he told the man that it was an "act of violence against gay folk" that the Vatican was considering instructing its seminaries to bar homosexuals and viewed it as an attempt by Catholic leaders to blame gays for the clergy sex abuse crisis. But Robinson said he told the young man that he should live "such that the light of Christ so shone through him that no one in his church could doubt his full membership in the body of Christ." "I was not encouraging this young Roman Catholic man to be confrontative in any way," Robinson said. Robinson's 2003 consecration sparked a crisis within world Anglicanism; the majority of Anglicans overseas believe same-sex relationships violate Scripture. It also has created tensions between the 77-million-member Anglican Communion and other denominations, including the Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church is the communion's U.S. branch. (AP)

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