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Episcopal bishop of N.H. foresees Anglican church split

PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- The first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church is predicting a division in the Anglican Communion two years after US church leaders triggered global outrage by approving his election.

''This is at least as much about power and control as it is about theology and Scripture," Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said in an interview. ''It's about who's going to be calling the shots, and who's going to be in and who's going to be out."

At stake is how 77 million Anglicans around the world, including 2.3 million members of America's Episcopal Church, define their religion and their relationship to one another.

Robinson said he underestimated the opportunity his election gave conservatives to organize within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion of which it is a part.

Until about six months ago, Robinson said, he remained optimistic the Anglican Communion would work through initial outrage over his election to respect the customary right of dioceses to elect the bishop of their choosing. But at a private meeting of American bishops in Los Angeles several months ago, Robinson said, he first sensed what he considers a conservative power grab.

Robinson came to discuss reconciliation, he said, but several opponents had a different goal. ''I said 'I'm here to talk about how we can live together.' And three or four of them said: 'I'm not here for reconciliation. I'm here to divvy up the property from this divorce,' " he said.

One participant was Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, leader of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes that rallies the conservative minority of Episcopalians.

''This is not a power play," Duncan said, ''except in the sense that Bishop Robinson's position in the church is a total innovation in the life of the church, and what we face are two positions that can't be put together."

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