Room for differing opinions on gay clergy, says archbishop


ITALY:IRELAND'S 12 Church of Ireland bishops may differ as to whether gay clergy should be consecrated bishops, but each respected the other's opinion, the Archbishop of Dublin said yesterday, writes Patsy McGarry.

Speaking to The Irish Times at the Lambeth Conference, Dr John Neill said he "would emphasise that all of us (Irish bishops) feel our positions are compatible with scripture and respect each other's different understanding (of scripture) on the subject".

Dr Neill said he had been "very strongly opposed to gay clergy but over the years I have mellowed a great deal". It had been a similar case where his views on the ordination of women priests were concerned: "As you get older you do see a bigger picture," he said.

As for the consecration of then canon Gene Robinson as bishop in 2003 he felt it was "untimely" but he had been very impressed by an American bishop who had opposed that consecration but had later said to him "now you are going to be a bishop and I am going to work with you".

Dr Neill continued: "And that's the way I feel too. The consecration may have been premature, but once it happened it was proper to recognise him as a bishop of the church. I am just sorry he is not part of this conference.

"I also respect the process by which he was elected. He was known as second-in-command in the diocese (of New Hampshire) for many years. It's not as though he was elected because of his homosexuality."

The Episcopal Church (of the US) organised a meeting with Bishop Robinson on Wednesday night in Canterbury, which Dr Neill and his wife attended.