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First openly gay bishop in US says he is being treated for alcoholism

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the US Episcopal (Anglican) Church, says he is undergoing treatment for alcoholism.

In a letter to the Episcopal churches in New Hampshire state, where he serves as bishop, and made public earlier this week, Robinson said he would spend all of February at a treatment centre, whose location he did not disclose because of privacy concerns.

"Over the 28 days I will be here, I will be dealing with the disease of alcoholism – which, for years, I have thought of as a failure of will or discipline on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop drinking altogether," said Robinson in the letter.

Robinson’s election as New Hampshire’s Episcopal bishop in 2003 angered many fellow senior bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion and US church members opposed to the ordination of homosexuals. Some within the US denomination have threatened to leave and the controversy is being touted to take centre stage when the church’s General Convention meets later this year.

The rancour about Robinson’s appointment and the divisions within the church were shown in reaction to Robinson’s announcement.

While some of those who have opposed Robinson’s appointment joined their opponents on the sexuality issue in wishing him well as he underwent treatment, one prominent Robinson opponent, David W. Virtue, faulted the bishop for not making an "admission that it is personal failure".

"[The] Episcopal Church Left is already spinning to make him [Robinson] look like a victim of his own drinking," wrote Virtue, who edits an Anglican Web site that campaigns for "orthodoxy", VirtueOnline. "It is one more example of the Left trumpeting sin as a noble cause."

(c) Ecumenical News International

Photo : Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson