Gay Bishop Says Church Will Eventually Embrace Homosexuals

Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop whose ordination nearly split the Anglican Communion, said Friday that he believes the Communion will eventually embrace homosexuals but not in his lifetime.

"I believe that the acceptance of gay and lesbian people into the life of the Church is something that is going to happen," Robinson said in an interview with BBC radio.

"It may not happen in my lifetime, but that is all right. It will happen in God's own time.

Robinson was visiting Britain to join the 10th anniversary celebration of Changing Attitude – a group that promotes the acceptance of gay clergy. He is not permitted to preach or preside at any Church of England service during his visit.

In late 2003, bishops of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. – the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion – elected Gene Robinson to lead the New Hampshire diocese of the church. His consecration in 2004 sparked widespread outrage among conservatives around the world and particularly in Africa.

Since then, the Archbishop of Canterbury has struggled to keep the Communion together and has urged both conservatives and liberals to work together despite their differences.

Robinson met privately with Archbishop Rowan Williams as part of his trip.

William’s office described the encounter as “friendly but candid” and said the two discussed the “range of problems that have arisen following Bishop Robinson’s consecration.” Robinson said the meeting was “cordial” but did not make any further comments.

During his interview with the BBC, Robinson said he believes the world’s Anglicans should allow U.S. Episcopalians to decide ordination standards on their own terms.

"What I will say in the short run is that no one is asking any other province of the Anglican Communion to raise up gay and lesbian people and to ordain them as priests or consecrate them as bishops,” he said. "We are only asking that we be allowed to do this in our own context, which is admittedly different to that of most of the world.”

He mentioned that Anglicans disagree on many other issues including abortion, stem-cell research and the war in Iraq.

"So the question is can we still live together and hold on to one another while we resolve this issue?" Robinson said.