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Gay Episcopalian bishop declines to speak overseas

CONCORD, N.H. -- Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson is declining all overseas speaking engagements until a commission studying the effect of his consecration as the Anglican Communion's first openly gay leader finishes its work.

Robinson said in deference to the commission, "I have decided to decline all public speaking engagements in provinces" outside of the United States until the commission is done.

"At that time, I will gladly join the international conversations about the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians as children of God and full members of the church," Robinson said in a statement yesterday.

Anglican leaders warned that Robinson's consecration last November could shatter the global Anglican Communion. The church's official line rejects homosexual practice as "incompatible with Scripture."

Shortly before Robinson was consecrated, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams named a mix of conservative and liberal church leaders to the commission to examine the crisis over homosexuality that is wracking the Anglican Communion. The commission is expected to release its report later this year.

In his statement, Robinson said he has withdrawn from a March 11 debate at Oxford University on the role of gays in the church. He had accepted the invitation last year.

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