Thursday November 11, 2010

First Gay Anglican Bishop to Retire, Citing Strain of “Controversy”

By Peter J. Smith

CONCORD, New Hampshire, November 11, 2010 ( – Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, has announced his retirement after seven years leading his New Hampshire diocese due to the strain of the controversy that has consumed the Anglican Communion following his election.

The U.S. Episcopal Church consecrated Robinson in 2003 over the objections of traditional members of the Anglican Communion, who said that consecrating an active homosexual man as bishop was a clear repudiation of the Scriptural foundations of the church and Christianity.

Ever since then, the Anglican Communion has struggled to overcome an open rift that has certain factions poised to leave the Communion or even seek reunification with the Catholic Church, which has guaranteed the Anglican identity a perpetual place within its fold.

Robinson said at Saturday’s annual diocesan convention in Concord that he would step down in January 2013, allowing time for the diocese to consecrate a coadjutor bishop in 2012 for a transition period. Robinson will be 65, well shy of the mandatory retirement age of 72 in the Episcopal Church (TEC).

“The fact is, the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family and you,” Robinson stated. “Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark.”

The announcement, however, did not please conservatives in the Anglican Communion, who said that the issues in the church had gone far beyond the election of Robinson and homosexual bishops.

“Gene Robinson’s retirement does not change anything,” said Dr. Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream. “The issue is the refusal of [the Episcopal Church] to adhere to the agreed doctrinal standards of the Communion and their leadership’s determination to promote – and in North America enforce – ethical and doctrinal standards which are contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture as received by the universal church.

“They have chosen to walk apart.”

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, said the current crisis in the Anglican Communion “is not about Bishop Robinson personally.”

“It is true that his consecration as a Bishop seven years ago was one of the flashpoints for a serious re-alignment of the whole Communion,” he said. “But many things have happened since then.”

Jensen said that the future of the Anglican Communion depends on the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Jerusalem Declaration, which represented a commitment of conservative Anglican leaders, many from the Global South, to put the Anglican Communion back on solid orthodox teaching.

Anglican commentator David Virtue, however, said the toll on Robinson was “entirely self-induced, if not self-inflicted.”

“In or out, Robinson has done all the damage needed to send The Episcopal Church into perpetual decline. He has effectively, by proxy, destroyed the Anglican Communion, as we know it,” said Virtue.

Virtue said Robinson’s consecration paved the way for the break-up of the Anglican Communion, the creation of GAFCON, the Jerusalem Declaration, and the establishment of the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to compete for conservative Anglican communities disaffected by TEC leadership.

The fractures in the Anglican Communion grew even after Robinson’s election, when TEC decided to violate the moratorium on homosexual consecrations to the episcopate demanded by Archbishop Rowan Williams. TEC elevated Mary Glasspool, an open lesbian, suffragan bishop of Los Angeles in 2010.

Robinson will step down from his post as New Hampshire’s bishop, but says he will continue to act as a bishop within TEC.

See related coverage by

General Synod Gives Anglican Trads in England No Option on Female Bishops

Gay Anglican Bishop Lectures Pope on Abuse Scandal

Three Anglican Bishops Discuss Reunion with Rome

The Idol of Our Many Understandings – Bishop Gene Robinson at Prayer

Future of Anglican Communion Resides with Global South Bishops and Christian Orthodoxy: GAFCON

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