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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 17, 2006

New Episcopal bishop supports same-sex couples

Cincinnati--Committed same sex couples deserve sanctification of their relationships �as much as heterosexual married couples with or without the blessing of the church,� said Bishop-elect Thomas E. Breidenthal of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. �Ultimately, God will bless them.�

In the midst of angst over participation of gays and lesbians in the church and worldwide conflict over the recognition of same-sex couples, Breidenthal was elected to become the next bishop of the diocese November 11.

The diocese includes 30,000 Episcopalians living in the southern half of Ohio.

The denomination and its parent, the worldwide Anglican Communion, have been struggling with the question of how active gays and lesbians will be in the church since V. Gene Robinson, a gay man, became the bishop of New Hampshire in 2004, causing a threatened split of the larger church organization.

The issue was in play during the selection of Breidenthal, as he has been public in his nuanced support of church recognition of same-sex couples.

Those views are discussed in his book Sacred Unions: A New Guide to Life-Long Commitment, published earlier this year.

Breidenthal is currently the dean of religious life and the chapel at Princeton University. He will leave his post and move to Ohio over the winter and will be consecrated April 28 in Columbus.

Breidenthal doesn�t think his election reflects the diocese�s attitudes toward gays and lesbians as much as it does their respect for his interest in interdenominational and ecumenical cooperation.

He also thinks the diocese was interested in his intellectual pursuits and desire to continue its involvement in the national church.

Asked if he would have a problem supporting another gay bishop, Breidenthal said, �No.�

However, Breidenthal�s position on gays is couched very carefully in his desire to keep the Anglican Communion together.

�I�m very concerned that we work hard to prevent the break up of the Anglican Communion,� said Breidenthal. �We need to be ready to go a long way to do everything possible to make communion with those who disagree with us on the issue.�

�We all agree that the church should be welcoming,� said Breidenthal, acknowledging that the rift is about participation and recognition.

Breidenthal suceeds Bishop Herbert Thompson, Jr., who retired the end of 2005.


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