The Washington Times    September 30, 2003


Episcopal leader backs gay bishop vote

    NEW YORK (AP) X With two key meetings ahead that could determine whether the Episcopal Church splits over homosexuality, the denomination's leader defended his support yesterday for an openly practicing homosexual bishop.
    Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said in an interview with the Associated Press that he voted at last month's General Convention to confirm Bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson because Episcopalians in New Hampshire had overwhelmingly chosen him in their local election and had the right to make that choice.
    Bishop Griswold also argued that the Bible does not condemn homosexual acts, a position his opponents vehemently reject.
    "I wasn't settling the question of sexuality. I was affirming the choice of a diocese," Bishop Griswold said, seated in his midtown Manhattan office.
    Later he said that in biblical times there was no understanding that homosexuality was a natural orientation and not a choice.
    "Discreet acts of homosexuality" were condemned in the Bible because they were acts of lust instead of the "love, forgiveness, grace" of committed same-sex relationships, he said. Bishop Robinson left his wife and two children and has lived with his current lover for more than 13 years.
    "Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible," he said. "I think the confirmation of the bishop of New Hampshire is acknowledging what is already a reality in the life of the church and the larger society of which we are a part."
    Bishop Griswold made the comments at a critical time for his leadership of the 2.3-million member Episcopal Church.
    Next week, the American Anglican Council will gather more than 1,400 lay Episcopalians, bishops and clergy in Dallas to decide whether to break from the denomination over the Bishop Robinson issue.
    The following week, on Oct. 15-16, Bishop Griswold will join fellow leaders of the world Anglican Communion at an emergency meeting in London to try to prevent their association from fracturing over the bishop and other issues related to homosexuality.
    The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, which represents churches that trace their roots to the Church of England.
    Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the communion's spiritual leader, summoned the other 37 church primates to London after several overseas bishops threatened to sever ties with the Americans. Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola called electing Bishop Robinson "a satanic attack on God's church."
    Asked his reaction to demands from some critics that he be sanctioned personally, Bishop Griswold shrugged and said "whatever will be, will be."