July 15, 2009

US church votes to allow gay bishops

by Benjamin Graham

Gay and lesbian clergy in the US Anglican church can be promoted to the role of bishop, the church’s leading body has ruled.

The Episcopal Church General Convention voted to overturn a three-year ban on the appointment of gay bishops in a move that is expected to widen its rift with the Anglican Communion.

“God has called and may call” homosexuals in committed relationships to “any ordained ministry”, the resolution said.

Lay people voted 78-21 and clergy voted 77-19 to approve the ruling.

The House of Bishops had previously voted 99-45 to adopt the statement.

The Anglican Communion has been struggling to avoid a break-away by the Episcopal Church since the latter consecrated openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

Bishop Robinson welcomed the decision by the Convention, but warned that it could lead to further conflict in the Church.

“No doubt, they will pay a price for opening their hearts, much as gay and lesbian people in this church have paid a price for their exclusion,” Robinson wrote on his blog.

“I applaud them for their courage and will stand with them in the consequences of their vote.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican Communion, expressed regret at the Episcopal Church vote.

“I regret the fact that there is no will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the church in North America,” Dr Williams said.

N. T. Wright, a conservative bishop in the Church of England, said the vote “marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.”

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