The Mad Monk will have to choose.
Just a short walk from the muddy waters of the Mississippi, the Anglican bishops of the United States have gathered to decide whether they will provoke the biggest schism in the Church of England since its foundation by Henry VIII.
At issue is the role of gays in the Anglican Communion and the status of Gene Robinson, a homosexual father of two daughters who was elevated three years ago to become the Bishop of New Hampshire. On Tuesday, the American bishops, the majority of whom are liberals, are expected to vote to support a greater role for gays and lesbians in the Church, both with regard to the creation of new bishops and the blessing of same-sex relationships.
Unless they can be persuaded otherwise, it seems certain the move will irrevocably split the Church, ending the Anglican Communion and creating an alternative alliance between Africa and conservatives in the US. It could not be more appropriate that the final battle is set for New Orleans, a city so steeped in its reputation for sin and debauchery that the fire-and-brimstone wing of America's Christian Right attributed the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to the cleansing wrath of the Almighty.
Will he get out of town with his true love, the uber-liberals of the US Episcopal Church, or will he take the steep and narrow way of duty, turn from his path and blow away the idolaters, though they be as many as the grains of sand on the seashore ?
Your guess is as good as mine. What's a foregone conclusion is that both sides will end up hating him - which in the end is a tragedy. Like Neville Chamberlain, he "ran into tides the force of which he could not measure, and hurricanes from which he did not flinch, but was unable to cope".
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