Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
July 27, 2007
The openly gay bishop whose ordination sparked the crisis in the Anglican Communion has claimed the Church of England would be close to shutting down if it was forced to manage without its gay clergy.
The Bishop of New Hampshire in the US, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, who is divorced and lives openly in partnership with a gay man, said he found it "mystifying" that the mother church of the Anglican Communion was unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks.
He said many of the English church's clergy lived openly in their rectories with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishops. But he criticised the stance of bishops who threaten the clergy with emnity should their relationships become public.
Speaking in an interview in London, Bishop Gene said: "I have met so many gay partnered clergy here and it is so troubling to hear them tell me that their bishop comes to their house for dinner, knows fully about their relationship, is wonderfully supportive but has also said if this ever becomes public then I’m your worst enemy.
"It’s a terrible way to live your life and I think it’s a terrible way to be a church. I think integrity is so important. What does it mean for a clergy person to be in a pulpit calling the parishioners to a life of integrity when they can’t even live a life of integrity with their own bishop and their own church? So I would feel better about the Church of England’s stance, its reluctance to support The Episcopal Church in what it has done if it would at least admit that this not an American problem and just an American challenge. If all the gay people stayed away from church on a given Sunday the Church of England would be close to shut down between its organists, its clergy, its wardens.....it just seems less than humble not to admit that."
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