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Russian Orthodox Church suspends ties with Anglicans over gay bishop

September 5, 2003

MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church is suspending its relations with the Episcopalians, the US wing of the Anglican church, over the ordainment of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson, the patriarchate said Monday in a statement.

"In view of the situation, the Russian Orthodox Church is obliged to suspend the work of the joint coordination committee (formed in the early 1990s) and freeze its relations with the Episcopalian church in the United States," the statement said, making no specific reference to Anglicanism.

"We see great danger in the processes that under way in the American Episcopalian church and certain other Christian communities in the Western world," the patriarchate said.

"People are gradually becoming accustomed to viewing homosexuality as not a deviation or a perversion but as just a form of 'love' that the Church can even bless," it said.

Referring to the decision by the Episcopal church earlier this year to allow local communities and parishes to bless homosexual couples, the Russian Orthodox authorities warned against what it described as a "terrible consequence: people of a normal sexual orientation moving towards homosexuality."

The Russian Orthodox hierarchy has adopted an uncompromising position on the issue of homosexuality, annulling a gay marriage carried out by a priest in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod last September and defrocking the priest who conducted the ceremony.

The world Anglican community has been strongly divided on the November 2 consecration of Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, as bishop of New Hampshire. –Sapa-AFP

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