The first female leader of the US Episcopal Church has defended homosexuality after announcing her belief that it is not a sin.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, 52, elected this week as the head of the 2.3 million member church, told reporters that she felt homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same sex.

The Bishop of Nevada told CNN, “I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us.

“Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender.”

She defended her view claiming the Bible’s passages relating to homosexuality are written in a different historical context, “The Bible has a great deal to teach us about how to live as human beings. The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear — there are rules in the Bible about those that we don’t observe today.

“The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings, and that’s certainly the great message of Jesus, to include the unincluded.”

There are fears that her appointment could widen divisions in the Anglican Church since many of its denominations do not allow female bishops, and tension is already high since the appointment of gay New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.