Bishops at the Episcopal General
Convention in Anaheim, California voted Monday in favor of lifting
their three-year moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops, the
The decision will likely increase
mounting pressure from other Anglican Communion churches – of which
the Episcopal Church is the American branch – to strike out on
their own over the issue.
Several mostly African churches have
broken off over the issue already.
The Episcopal Church first opened the
row with its decision to consecrate the first openly gay bishop, Rev.
Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in 2003. Robinson, 61, lives in
Weare, New Hampshire with his husband.
The resolution approved Monday –
which still needs to be reconciled with a version passed Sunday by
the church's other legislative body, the House of Deputies, made up
of clergy – allows dioceses to consider gay candidates to the
episcopacy, but does not instruct them to do so.
Despite the 2006 moratorium on openly
gay clergy, fractures in the Episcopal Church continued, and soon
disaffected dioceses splintered over the issue, forming the Anglican
Church of North America. The new group claims 100,000 members, the
New York Times reported.
Last month, over the loud objections of
conservatives the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian denomination, approved the appointment of an openly gay minister, Rev.
Scott Rennie. The church then backtracked a bit and placed a
two-year moratorium on the ordination of gay clergy.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
Williams, who as leader of the Church of England is the symbolic head
of the Anglican Communion, said he was disappointed by the vote.
Williams has struggled to impede dioceses from defecting over the
issue of gay clergy,
“I regret the fact that there is no
will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the
church in North America,” he said.
“Along with many in the communion, I
hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that
will push us further apart,” Williams said in his opening address
to the Episcopal General Convention.
“If we – if I – had felt that we
could do perfectly well without you, there wouldn't be a problem,”