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Sydney archboshop brands gay US church leader a 'disgusting bishop'

November 3, 2003

SYDNEY — The conservative Anglican archbishop of Sydney on Monday branded an openly gay U.S. church leader a "bishop of disunity" and said his consecration had split the global Anglican communion.

Archbishop Peter Jensen was commenting on the consecration by the Episcopal Church of V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

At a ceremony Sunday, New Hampshire's retiring Bishop Douglas Theuner said Robinson "will stand as a symbol of the unity of the church in a way none of the rest of us can" because he will "bring into our fellowship an entire group of Christians hitherto unacknowledged in the church."

Jensen dismissed that view.

"Of course the exact reverse is the truth," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "He is a disuniting bishop and he has been put forward in the face of an immense amount of opposition."

Jensen said he was saddened by the appointment "because the word of God teaches us clearly what the standards are for Christian behavior in leaders and Canon Robinson does not fulfill those requirements."

He said Robinson's consecration had riven the Anglican Communion, that numbers 77 million members. Many church leaders in Africa are angry at the appointment.

"This creates a split for the first time in a particular area and that's a tragedy but it's necessary if the truth is to be preserved," Jensen said. "Today I was speaking to an African bishop who told me that in his area of the world he is simply embarrassed to be called an Anglican, that everyone is very scornful of Anglicans because this has happened and he's receiving a great deal of criticism.

"Now apparently the American church doesn't worry about that." Jensen also was critical of the stance taken by the church's spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who in a statement from London said: "The divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret; they will be all too visible in the fact that it will not be possible for Gene Robinson's ministry as a bishop to be accepted in every province in the communion." Jensen said: "I myself would have preferred if the archbishop had spoken more clearly however about the fact that this is against the Bible and should not have gone ahead because it is against God's word."

In New Zealand, the Anglican Bishop of Wellington told parishioners he regrets Robinson's ordination.

The Right Rev. Thomas Brown has written to parishes in his charge saying that Anglicans regard homosexual practice as "incompatible with scripture" and that same sex marriages should not be blessed.

But he urged the Church not to dwell on its divisions.

"The Church is not so much a place to stand and divide as it is a place to love and unite," Brown said. þSapa-AP

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Anglican-Episcopal gay dispute may affect other churches



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