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The real Reverend Robinson

Joe Licandro | Wednesday, November 19, 2003

In his inaugural sermon as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Eugene Robinson told his congregation in Petersborough, N. H., he wants the church to speak out on moral issues against the Bush Administration. This is ironic, considering a strong majority in the Episcopal Church tried to speak out against a moral issue in opposing Robinson’s election as bishop, but their voices went unheard. You probably think I am going to write that the Episcopal Church should never have appointed a gay bishop because being gay is immoral. But because it is not my place to judge, and I do not particularly care about Robinson’s sexual orientation. What I am going to write is that the Episcopal Church should not have appointed a man who left his wife and children to live in a relationship with another man.The fact that Robinson happens to be gay is completely irrelevant because it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on his job performance. But as bishop, Robinson is expected to set the moral standard for his congregation. Leaving your wife and kids, whether for a woman or a man, should be grounds to disqualify you from taking a position of moral authority within the Episcopal Church. If I were sitting in Robinson’s church on Nov. 9 when he told his congregation “Think of all the kinds of blindness right outside this door; not seeing the people in need, or turning the other way when we do,” I would have stood up from my seat and headed straight for the nearest exit. Maybe it is just me, but I would have a difficult time listening to a man tell me how to live a moral life when he “turned the other way” from his family. This is not to say Robinson does not deserve forgiveness. Nor is this to say that he could not be a vital contributor to the Episcopal Church in a different capacity. After all, no one is perfect. Every single one of us has made mistakes and will continue to make them. But this being said, forgiveness is one thing. Being allowed to serve as bishop and to instruct others how to live a moral life is another. While I am not a Protestant, I am still a Christian whose core values are aligned with the Episcopal Church. So for the same reason I am completely disgusted that certain members of the Catholic hierarchy allowed known pedophiles to serve as priests, Episcopalians hold every right to be appalled that their leaders elected Robinson as bishop.Believe it or not, being gay actually helped Robinson become bishop. If he had been straight and left his wife for another woman, it is doubtful that he ever would have been appointed. By spinning his appointment as a gay rights issue, Robinson put his church in a very difficult situation. Out of fear of being labeled as anti-gay and close-minded, certain members of the Episcopalian hierarchy buckled under the pressure of political correctness. Sadly, this damage control may have caused an irreparable schism not only among Episcopalians in the United States, but the entire worldwide Anglican community of 77 million strong. Despite the bleak outlook, I believe the Anglican Church can survive this crisis. It would be a shame if they allowed one man to tear them apart.As if leaving his wife and kids were not reason enough, I have another problem with Robinson’s election – his insufferable arrogance. I did not think this was possible, but Robinson might be more selfish than Kobe Bryant. If the Reverend truly cared about the greater good of his church community, he would put aside his own self-interests and step down immediately. Given his selfish track record though, do not count on it any time soon. As he has already proven in the past, Robinson does not practice what he preaches.

Joe Licandro is a senior political science major. His column appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at jlicandr@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not neccessarily those of The Observer.