Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop in the Anglican Communion, claimed yesterday that he was called by God to become a Bishop.

The comments were made in a speech during the Bishop’s visit to Britain to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Changing Attitudes group of pro-Gay Christians.

“I’ve got to be honest I felt God was calling me out … God is always calling us to a place of integrity.” Bishop Robinson’s claim flies in the face of evangelical doctrine that does not allow the ordination or consecration of practising homosexuals. “About 10 or 12 years ago, God began to pursue me about the episcopate,” he said. “I’ve often compared it to a little yapping dog biting at your heels. He wouldn’t leave me alone. It seemed that God wanted me to be in this process.”

Dr Philip Giddings, a lecturer at Reading University and a spokesman for Anglican Mainstream, the evangelical movement said that he was “saddened” by the content of Bishop Robinson’s speech.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph he said, “We know that all of us sometimes hear the echoes of our own thoughts rather than God’s. Gene Robinson talks a lot about inclusiveness and hardly at all about holiness. What he’s involved in is a denial of Anglican orthodoxy, a denial of scripture and the holiness of God – indeed a reversal of it. That which the Bible calls sinful is being called good and he is in a spiritually dangerous position.”

The Bishop received a standing ovation at the end of his speech, although he was not permitted to wear his official ornaments and dress whilst addressing the audience.

Earlier in the day he criticised the Roman Catholic’s ban on gay clergy as “vile” in a speech in London

On Friday, the Bishop met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in a private meeting that was described as “friendly but candid”.

A spokesman for the spiritual head of the Church of England said, “the encounter came as part of the Archbishop’s commitment to listening to the voices of all concerned in the current challenges facing the Anglican Communion.”