Bishop compares homosexual oppression to exodus story
The bishop at the centre of the dispute over same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church has drawn a theological comparison between homosexuals in the Church and the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the wilderness.
The Right Rev Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster, Canada, the first diocese in the worldwide Church to authorise a gay blessings rite, said the present time was comparable to the years spent looking for the Promised Land after the exodus of the ancestors of the Jewish people from Egypt, reports the Times.
He said: ìItís a time of murmuring against some of our leaders and anger at some of our fellow travellers. Some of us have left behind the long period of undisguised homophobia, the centuries of open contempt which was our Egypt, but we have not yet found the Promised Land of acceptance and equality . . . Some of us are losing hope. Some of us are dying.î
Bishop Ingham was preaching in Manchester at the final service to mark the end of Halfway to Lambeth, the annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
The Right Rev Stephen Lowe, the Bishop of Hulme in the Manchester Diocese, celebrated the eucharist with Fr Ian Gomersall, St Johnís parish priest, and the Very Rev Rowan Smith, Dean of Cape Town in South Africa.
Referring to the events after the Exodus, as depicted in the Old Testament, Bishop Ingham said: ìFor many gay and lesbian people in the Church today, this is a time of wilderness, a time of searching without a place to call home."
ìEven I, a straight man, know something of this desert. The hate mail I receive is relentless. I have been called a ësodomite bishopí in leaflets plastered over church parking lots in my diocese,î he said.
He said the main opposition to lesbian and gay people in the Church came from traditionalists who cited the Bible, but he argued for a rereading of the texts. He also compared the lesbian and gay community to those who suffered under apartheid in South Africa, where the next Lambeth Conference will be held in 2008.
The service, attended by 250 people, was originally intended to be at Manchester Cathedral, but the cathedral withdrew its invitation after the debate erupted over the election of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
Earlier, Canon Robinson told the conference that he had not changed his mind about stepping down and that he wanted to ìget on with Godís workî. Speaking via video link from his home in New Hampshire, he said that it was Godís will for the Church to embrace homosexual clergy. He said virulent anti-homosexual statements were ìevilî.