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First gay bishop creates church schisms

Nov. 3, 2003 at 1:23 PM

DURHAM, N.H., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The elevation of an openly gay Episcopalian priest to bishop has sparked protests from within the Anglican Communion, reports said Monday.

In a 3-hour ceremony in Durham, N.H., 44 Episcopal bishops laid their hands on the head of Gene Robinson Sunday and proclaimed him a successor to Jesus' apostles, the Boston Globe reported.

But Monday, Archbishop Peter Akinola, leader of the Nigerian Church, said the consecration meant a "state of impaired communion" now divided the church worldwide, the BBC said.

"We deplore the act of those bishops who have taken part in the consecration," he said in a statement on behalf of the Primates of the Global South, said to represent over 50 million Anglicans.

The bishop of Sydney, Australia, Peter Jensen, criticized the appointment, saying his diocese could not recognize Robinson as fulfilling the criteria laid down in the Bible for a bishop.

The leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, issued a statement immediately following Robinson's consecration, saying, "The divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret."

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