An Anglican fellowship has launched a national petition to bring charges against gay bishop Gene Robinson and those involved in installing him.
The Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC), want to determine, in formal trials, the standing of church law, doctrine and practice.
The group asked the bishops in a letter to announce by April 28 their response to the group’s request that they recant, repent, resign or retire.
Copies of the letter were subsequently mailed to 40 bishops who opposed Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s approval. The petitions will be presented to the opposing bishops, encouraging a prompt start in the church’s “presentment” (indictment) procedures.
Bishop Robinson’s approval for consecration by the denomination’s 2003 general convention led to disarray among American Episcopalians and disrupted their affiliation with the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The convention votes and later consecration of Bishop Robinson divided the U.S. province and led to de facto suspension of the 2 million-member Episcopal church from the communion’s Consultative Council, the operating arm.
All of the denomination’s dioceses and churches are now in varying states of broken or impaired communion with foreign primates whose communicants comprise about 75% of the 78 million Anglicans in the international church.
Outright division of the province from the communion is expected by most observers at or following the 2006 general convention in Columbus, Ohio, in June.
The LEAC said: “Our purpose is to demonstrate the gravity of unilateral (non-communion) actions already taken to advance a gay agenda in our American church. The homosexual thrust is real, aggressive and largely influenced by a shadow gay-lesbian-transgender hierarchy of bishops, priests and laypeople. The most persistent campaigner for accelerating the gay agenda in the Episcopal church is Integrity, a 30-year-old homosexual activist organization believed to comprise much less than one per cent of the national church.
“An atmosphere of doubt and confusion has been deliberately created. We will ask for official judicial determination in America of the validity of the Scriptural and canonical rules we have always lived by.
“These canonical presentments would help to clear the air, and we pray for prompt action by bishops who opposed Bishop Robinson’s consecration and who oppose the radical gay agenda in our church.”
LEAC said prospective initiating bishops of the presentment (indictment) have been made aware of LEAC’s petition program. Canons require 10 bishops as complainants against bishops.
The sponsor said American Episcopal churches are inclusive in their membership, welcoming members of differing sexuality preferences, but there are clear Scriptural and operating prohibitions concerning ordainment of priests practicing homosexual lifestyles, “and certainly bishops are covered in that category,” the release said.
Bishop Robinson and his former wife and mother of his children divorced. He later met his homosexual partner.
“There is a great chasm. We believe our church judicial system should determine just where we stand canonically, for there is no doubt where our rank-and-file stands spiritually. That our beloved church was hijacked by gay agenda promoters in 2003 must not be confused with the popular will of Episcopalians, which is predominantly in line with the worldwide Anglican Communion’s positions. We need to get judicial interpretations and then proceed to determine whether the chasm dividing our faith can be closed through reconciliation and negotiation,” the release said.
The Diocese of New Hampshire was unavailable for comment.