The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops has voted to consent to the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of New Hampshire. He is the church's first openly gay priest to be elected as a bishop.
Diocesan bishops only were permitted to cast ballots; 62 voted in favor, 43 were opposed. Two bishops did not vote. Robinson needed only a simple majority to win consent.
Earlier in the day, Robinson was cleared of allegations of sexual misconduct. The investigation explored a claim that Robinson was involved in a Web site that ultimately linked to an adult-content site. It also looked into an e-mail allegation from a Vermont man claiming inappropriate touching by the bishop-elect. Both allegations surfaced after the House of Deputies approved the election of Robinson on Sunday.
After Robinson and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of New Hampshire requested an investigation, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold appointed Bishop Gordon P. Scruton of Western Massachusetts to investigate the charges. In Tuesday’s afternoon session in the House of Bishops, Scruton announced “it is my conclusion that there is no necessity to pursue further investigation and no reason on these grounds to prevent the Bishops with jurisdiction from going forward with their voting about whether or not to consent to Canon Robinson’s Consecration.”
After the report, the bishops shared in private conversation loosely based on an Ignatian process of communal discernment. Griswold asked the bishops to pray for their “interior spirit,” then to spend 15 minutes giving reasons why Robinson should not be elected. The bishops then prayed again and shared reasons why they should give consent to the bishop-elect.
The bishops then voted by paper ballot.