The openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire has attacked the attitudes of homophobic African bishops in an interview with BBC Radio 4 this morning.
Gene Robinson spoke openly about his view on the current controversy surrounding the Anglican Church.
“It’s very painful for me,” he said. “Coming out of the experience of the United States, where we treated people from Africa as less than human, where we used scripture to justify their slavery and their continued bondage.
“It’s very, very painful to have those people in Africa in some sense using the same thinking against gay and lesbian people and against me.”
When it was suggested that he might have stepped aside for the sake of the unity of the Communion, Bishop Robinson attributed a vocational call from God for his perseverance, despite the controversy he knew it would cause.
He hit out at people who accept homosexual people but condemn the practice.
“First, I would question the honesty of their statement that it is OK to be gay in their eyes, because their other actions do not indicate that to me,” he said.
Bishop Robinson also took this opportunity to extend an olive branch to the leader of the conservative ‘Global South,’ the Archbishop of Nigeria.
“I believe that Peter Akinola believes he is following his call to God as best he can. I just wish he could believe that I am following my call as best I can.”
In an interview with The Times last month, Archbishop Akinola also said it was not his intention not to divide the Church.
“That has never been on my mind,” he claimed.
However, Global South has recently announced they would boycott next year’s Lambeth Conference.
At a meeting in Tanzania in February, conservative bishops gave the North American churches until September to declare a moratorium on ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex unions. No such cessation has occurred.
Likewise no such moratorium has occurred in response to the demands of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the worldwide communion, by African primates to halt the consecration of dissident bishops, such as Martyn Minns who now leads a Nigerian church in the United States.
Despite the worldwide controversy that threatens to split the Anglican church, Bishop Robinson has stated how church life in New Hampshire diocese is remarkably normal, casually remarking: “I’m just the bishop.”
The 2.4 million-strong US Episcopal Church’s ordination in 2003 of Bishop Robinson, the first gay bishop in the 450 year history of the Anglican church, led to a divide between the liberal and conservative camps in the 77 million member Anglican Communion.
Despite the divisions, Bishop Robinson told the BBC that he wants to continue his service.
“I love the Anglican Church, and I value the Communion, and I will do everything short of standing down to benefit the Communion, but I will not reject God’s call to me.”