DURHAM, N.H. (ABP) — Shortly after an openly gay man was installed as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, his brethren in the Third World reacted with anger — some of them cutting off their relations with the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Gene Robinson was installed Nov. 2 in an elaborate ceremony held in a sports arena at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Nearly 3,000 Episcopalians attended the ceremony, called a consecration.
With the act, Robinson becomes the first openly gay man to be installed as a bishop in the church. Robinson is in a committed, long-term sexual relationship with another man.
In an address after his installation, Robinson attempted to strike a note of reconciliation to the thousands of U.S. Episcopalians and the millions of other members of the Anglican Communion around the world who opposed his election and consecration. “There are people — faithful, wonderful, Christian people — for whom this is a moment of great pain, confusion and anger,” Robinson reminded his audience, according to the Washington Post.
He added that the majority who supported his election must remain “hospitable, loving and caring to them in every way we can possibly muster.”
But many of his opponents among conservative Anglican clerics in the Third World weren't as conciliatory. “We are appalled that the authorities of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. have ignored the heartfelt plea of the [Anglican] Communion not to proceed with the scheduled consecration of Canon Gene Robinson,” said Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola in a statement released Nov. 3.
The statement was written under the auspices of a group calling itself the Primates of the Global South. It was signed by 20 primates — or governing leaders of national Anglican denominations — who hail mostly from African, Latin American and Asian countries.
“The overwhelming majority of the Primates of the Global South cannot and will not recognize the office or ministry of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop,” the document went on to say
It also noted that, because of Robinson's elevation to bishop, a “state of impaired communion” now exists between their churches and the American denomination.
One Kenyan Anglican leader went further, according to the South African television station News 24. Bishop Thomas Kogo of the Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya, saying he was speaking for his fellow Kenyan bishops, announced that 50 million Anglicans in Kenya were officially breaking communion with the U.S. Episcopal Church.