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Fears of split follow gay bishop vote

Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Difficult days' ahead for Anglicans

Bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson says he will do all he can to heal a rift in the Episcopal Church.
Bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson says he will do all he can to heal a rift in the Episcopal Church.

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CNN's Heidi Collins talks to Bishop-elect Gene Robinson
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The Rev. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop-elect, says he believes the church will hold together.
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Episcopal Church spokesman calls Robinson's confirmation 'an important step.'
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PROFILE: BISHOP-ELECT ROBINSON
The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, 56, is the first openly gay clergyman to be elected an Episcopalian bishop. Mired in controversy, his confirmation threatens to divide the denomination and the global Anglican Communion.

Experience: Canon to the ordinary of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire since 1988; executive secretary of the Episcopal Province of New England since 1983; on the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary in New York City since 2001; founding director of Sign of the Dove Retreat Center in Temple, New Hampshire.

Education: Bachelor's degree in American studies/history, University of the South, 1969; Master's degree in divinity, General Theological Seminary, 1973.

Family: Partner Mark Andrew; two daughters, Jamee and Ella, from first marriage.

Sources: American Anglican Council, The Associated Press
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- The Episcopal Church on Wednesday is coming to terms with reaction to its appointment of the first openly gay bishop -- a decision that some opponents have said could split the church domestically and internationally.

The Rev. V. Gene Robinson will be made bishop of New Hampshire following the House of Bishops' confirmation of his nomination Tuesday, ending a controversy that has dominated the order's General Convention in Minneapolis.

The historic vote has sent shock waves through the church and the wider Anglican community, with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams saying Wednesday that the church faced "difficult days" while members deal with the decision. (Full story)

In a statement, the archbishop, spiritual head of the world's 70 million Anglicans, said: "Difficult days lie ahead for the Anglican church after the decision of the Episcopal Church of the United States to confirm the election of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

"It is my hope that the church in America and the rest of the Anglican communion will have the opportunity to consider this development before significant and irrevocable decisions are made in response."

Robinson told CNN Wednesday he fervently hoped no one would leave the church because of the debate over his election.

"One of the great things about the Anglican union ... we can disagree about lots of issues -- war and peace, abortion, homosexuality -- and we don't put one of those issues above our common belief in Jesus Christ," he said.

He vowed to do what he can to heal the rift, "but it's also the responsibility of the whole church to reach out to those for whom this is a very troubling decision."

Michael Hopkins, president of Integrity and a leading Episcopal gay advocate, told CNN's American Morning Wednesday. "I do think that there is far more that holds us together, and I would hope that people would remember and concentrate on that this morning.

"We are in what I would like to call a family feud. But like the family feuds we used to have around my dinner table, this family will hold together."

Opponents of the move said the appointment is against God's teachings and could harm relations with Anglican churches in more conservative regions of the world.

"This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians throughout the world," said Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bishop John-David Schofield of the San Joaquin, California, diocese, said: "[This] has revealed the cancer in the body of Christ."

The conservative American Anglican Council on Tuesday announced plans to hold an October meeting in Plano, Texas, "in order to chart our future."

"The AAC is committed to remaining part of the Anglican Communion and will find a way for mainstream Anglicans in the Episcopal Church to stay in communion with the archbishop of Canterbury," said a statement from the group.

Robinson's supporters said tough times may lie ahead for the church but said the decision does not necessarily mean the 2.3 million U.S. Episcopalians will split into two camps.

"Yes, there's a lot of fear, but I happen to believe the love of God can overcome that," the Rev. Susan Russell of the gay Episcopal group Claiming the Blessing said.

"What we really need to do is hang together, as we have in this convention through this difficult time, and find a way through this."

Robinson was first nominated as bishop of New Hampshire by the state's congregation.

At the Episcopalian convention, he won three votes by different parts of the church -- from lay members to bishops -- to approve his nomination. (Full story)

The final vote of bishops came Tuesday after a 24-hour delay caused by allegations that Robinson inappropriately touched a man and that he was involved in a Web site that indirectly linked to graphic sexual images.

A swift investigation cleared Robinson in both cases, leading to Tuesday's vote by the bishops. (Full story)

As New Hampshire's bishop-elect, Robinson will return to his state to be confirmed. His consecration is scheduled for November.

"It's been a long time in coming," Robinson said after Tuesday's vote. "It's not so much a dream as a calling from God, and I'm really thrilled to be on my way to being the bishop of New Hampshire."

Robinson said Wednesday he hoped no one would leave the church because of the debate over his election.

He vowed to do what he can to heal the rift, "but it's also the responsibility of the whole church to reach out to those for whom this is a very troubling decision."


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