.- As debate continues to rage in the Episcopal church over the ordination of openly gay clergy and now same sex unions, nine U.S. Episcopal bishops plan to sue the bishop of Connecticut in a church court over his support of the practice and his attempted silencing of some who are against it. Bishops from Kansas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas and South Carolina plan to sue Bishop Andrew Smith for what they call “conduct unbecoming a bishop” and for suspending one priest and threatening five others who opposed the recent ordination of Gene Robinson, the church’s first openly gay bishop.
The priests asked to be transferred to another diocese, which the church says it cannot do.
Robinson was ordained bishop of New Hampshire in 2003--an act which caused the Episcopal church, which is the American branch of the Anglican church, considerable criticism.
Smith was one of those who voted for Robinson during his election and now openly supports same-sex unions--yet another issue currently tearing apart the 77 million member worldwide Anglican church.
In a letter to Smith, the nine bishops said that, "We would prefer to find some way other than this deepening battle, but we refuse to allow this recent aggression to go unchecked or unchallenged."
Likewise, a spokesman for Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan told the Reuters news agency that "We are all praying for a peaceful resolution to this.”
The bishops have also pledged to raise financial and legal support for the six priests at the center of the debate.