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Episcopal leader decries criticism of stance on gays

She defends church's openness about having homosexual bishops.

January 02, 2008|From the Associated Press

LONDON — Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says her American church has been unfairly singled out for criticism because it is honest about consecrating gay bishops.

Jefferts Schori told BBC Radio 4's "PM" program that the New York-based church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, is far from being the only Anglican province that has a bishop with a same-sex partner.

In 2003, Episcopalians elected the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, causing an uproar that has pushed the Anglican family toward a split.

"He is certainly not alone in being a gay bishop; he's certainly not alone in being a gay-partnered bishop," Jefferts Schori said in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

"He is alone in being the only gay-partnered bishop who's open about that status."

The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a global fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. Most Anglicans are traditionalists who believe Scripture bars gay relationships.

Liberal-leaning Anglicans believe the Bible's social justice teachings on acceptance should apply to same-gender couples.

The national Episcopal Church has not developed an official public prayer to bless gay couples churchwide. However, Jefferts Schori and other Episcopal leaders acknowledge that such ceremonies take place in many parishes. She said other Anglican churches do the same.

"Those services are happening in various places, including in the Church of England, where my understanding is that there are far more of them happening than there are in the Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori said.

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