The only openly gay bishop in the Anglican Church has said many of his fellow clergy have “an unwillingness to be honest” about their sexual orientation.
Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, told AFP:
“There are many clergy in Britain who are living with their partners.
“Many are out to their congregation and out to their bishop.
“But no one is willing to say it out loud.
“It’s not dishonesty but an unwillingness to be honest.
“I’m here because I would like to make it possible for those who would like to be open and honest to do so.”
He was speaking in Scotland as a meeting of Anglican bishops from around the world came to a close in Kent.
Bishop Robinson was not invited to the Lambeth Conference, which was overshadowed by a boycott.
More than 200 bishops stayed away from the once-a-decade meeting in protest over gay and lesbian issues.
At the close of the conference yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury said the “pieces are on the board” for a settlement.
He also called on American churches not to elect any more gay bishops.
But despite there still being “many questions” on the issue, a Covenant to bind the Communion together is needed, he said: “We may not have put an end to all our problems – but the pieces are on the board.”
The Covenant could mean churches with new gay bishops could be expelled from the Anglican Communion.
In January the leader of the Anglican church in the United States said Bishop Robinson has been unfairly targeted.
“He is certainly not alone in being a gay bishop; he’s certainly not alone in being a gay partnered bishop,” Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in an interview broadcast on the BBC.
“He is alone in being the only gay partnered bishop who’s open about that status.”
Bishop Robinson’s ordination in 2003 marked the beginning of one of the most damaging arguments in Anglican history.
However, he is unrepentant about the split, claiming that the Bible is open to interpretation and that fundamentalist positions on the place of gays in the church will one day be viewed as morally wrong.
“Those who claim to make a plain reading of scriptures are actually interpreting it as well. We all interpret scripture,” he told The Scotsman.
“It was not very long ago, about 150 years, we were still using scripture to justify slavery, and we came to understand that it was not God’s will.”
Preaching at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, he sent out a strong message about inclusion, as the head of the Church, speaking in Kent, was attempting to keep the Communion united.
“It is very refreshing that the Scottish Church has always admitted to its inclusiveness,” he said.
“The English Church may claim inclusiveness, but it is not always in practice.
“It is going to end with the full inclusion of all God’s people in God’s Church.
“I don’t know when. It doesn’t matter when.
“But I know it is going to be.
“What a dangerous thing it is to put the Bible into the hands of repressed people.
“They might read it and believe it. They gave it to black slaves to make them docile, but they read it and became educated.
“Who knows who they’ll give it to next? But God will keep giving it to people too, until there’s no more ‘them’, only ‘us’.”