Gene Robinson, the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop, is to quit, largely because of the constant opposition to his election by conservatives.
When he became the Bishop of New Hampshire, conservative Anglicans threatened to split the worldwide church down the middle; or, as the Independent puts it, the consecration “convulsed the global Anglican fellowship.”
“The last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family and you,” Robinson is quoted as saying in a statement to the at the annual diocesan convention in Concord, released by the diocese. “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.”
Robinson, 63, had to wear a bulletproof vest under his cassock when he was consecrated in 2003. He was also surrounded by bodyguards.
Recently, the man who heads the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he had no problem with gay bishops, provided they didn’t actually have sex.
The whole question of homosexuality – and in particular homosexuality among clergy – has split the Anglican Communion. While some bishops in the UK have even called for religious premises to be permitted for use for same-sex ceremonies, others – notably in African dioceses – have railed against the very existence of homosexuality.
And Digital Journalreported in June that Episcopalians in the US would no longer be able to serve on ecumenical bodies after the church elected a lesbian as an assistant bishop, Mary Glasspool, in Los Angeles. And this applies even to those who are opposed to same-sex relationships.
Williams, once thought to be liberal on such matters, has come down on the side of the conservatives since the Gene Robinson appointment. He even “asked for action against the Episcopal Church” after Glasspool’s appointment, says an AP report in June.
Robinson will retire from his post in 2013 after complaining that the backlash from conservatives within the Anglican Church has been a constant strain on him and his family.