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Church Approves Gay Bishop’s Selection Amid Some Protests

By Monica Davey

the New York Times -- MINNEAPOLIS

The Episcopal Church approved the election of its first openly gay bishop on Tuesday night, reaching the historic decision after rejecting accusations of sexual misconduct against him that had suddenly halted the vote on Monday.

After being called back to the floor of the House of Bishops Tuesday afternoon, 62 of 107 diocesan bishops voted to approve the bishop-elect, V. Gene Robinson. Moments later, more than a dozen conservative bishops, their faces grim, marched slowly to the front of the House to denounce the decision as an affront to church teaching that would split the worldwide church in two.

“The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow,” Bishop Robert Duncan, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, told the room. “This body has divided itself for millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality. With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action.”

Duncan, one of a group of church leaders who had fought Robinson’s approval for weeks, said he and his colleagues would now call on the top leaders of the Anglican Communion -- the 38 primates around the world -- to intervene on the “pastoral emergency that has overtaken” the Episcopal Church. “May God have mercy on this church,” he said.

But others rejoiced in the decision, praising the popular bishop-elect for his works, and saying that the decision marked another barrier overtaken by church leaders, another widening of the church doors.

Those who had pressed for the choice, over weeks of lobbying and days of intense pressure at this convention of hundreds of Episcopalians, said they were thrilled by the outcome, but also saddened by talk of a split within the church, and the calls for help from the Anglican Communion. “I am also mindful of the fact that our brothers and sisters are brokenhearted,” Wilson said, “and I feel for them in their pain.”