ST JOHN'S, Antigua – Leaders of Caribbean Anglicans said the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in the United States violates Scripture and warned of "overwhelming" international opposition.
The Episcopal Church (search), the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, "is aware that it is now a new ball game and we cannot have business as usual," Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the Bahamas said after a meeting that ended late Thursday night. It included 14 of the Caribbean's 18 Anglican bishops and a regional standing committee.
The Caribbean Anglican Communion (search) will "maintain a formal relationship" with the Episcopal Church while "keeping the matter under critical review" pending the findings of a commission expected in a year, a statement published Friday said.
Gomez, one of the leading conservatives in global Anglicanism, serves on a commission formed last month by the communion's spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, to examine how Anglicans can navigate the crisis over homosexuality. Their report is due by the end of next September.
The Episcopal Church has been in crisis since the August confirmation of the Rev. Gene Robinson (search) as New Hampshire bishop and his consecration on Nov. 2 as the first openly gay man elevated to that rank.
Gomez said that previous meetings with church leaders from Africa, South America, South East Asia and India convinced him they "don't support what took place in America ... and they represent over 50 million of the 70 million Anglicans across the globe." There are about 300,000 Anglicans in the Caribbean.
"It is quite clear that over two-thirds of the (church) provinces will have not only strong objection but overwhelming objection," he said.
In the United States, Episcopal conservatives are moving toward a complete break with their church.
On Wednesday, the leader of the U.S. Diocese of Central Florida asked the church's national leader, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, to resign because of Robinson's consecration.
The Caribbean bishops expressed support for clergymen opposed to Robinson's ordination. But they said "to breach (with the church) would be unethical and unchristian" before the commission reports its findings.
"We cannot accept the ministry of Canon Gene Robinson as a bishop," their statement said. "Apart from violating the clear and constant teaching of the Bible, the consecration ... directly challenges the common teaching, common practice and common witness of the entire Anglican Communion."
Robinson, preaching last Sunday for the first time since his consecration, told congregants that he wants the church to seek out the disenfranchised and speak out on moral issues.