Canon Gene Robinson, the Anglican communion of churches' first openly gay bishop, has pledged to defy world leaders of the church and proceed with his consecration this Sunday in the U.S.
Church leaders had urged him not to go through with the consecration after an emergency meeting in London 10 days ago. They warned that the decision could tear the church apart.
Conservatives and evangelicals have already threatened to declare themselves out of communion with the U.S. Episcopal church, which endorsed Robinson's appointment, or align themselves with Canadian congregations. Robinson’s opponents are currently planning a new church structure.
During their meeting Oct. 4, the pope also warned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, that the gay bishop’s stand could create a rift between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church as well as greater roadblocks in the ecumenical dialogue between the two churches.
Robinson, 56, a divorced grandfather with two daughters, has lived with his homosexual partner, Mark Andrew, for 13 years. He said he has received messages of support as well as abusive mail. The canon is under 24-hour police protection.