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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Gay Bishop Bid Delayed

Aired August 4, 2003 - 20:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now to a bishop-elect and some startling new allegations. Reverend Gene Robinson could still become the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop. But today, the vote that might have confirmed him and split the church in two was postponed, that after allegations surfaced that Robinson may have touched someone inappropriately a few years ago. There were also some other allegations.
I'm joined now by Reverend Michael Hopkins. He's just outside the Episcopal convention in Minneapolis; also there, Reverend David Anderson.

Welcome to both of you.

REV. MICHAEL HOPKINS, INTEGRITY USA: Thank you.

Thank you.

ZAHN: First of all, Reverend Hopkins, how seriously are you taking these latest allegations?

HOPKINS: The allegation about inappropriate touching, we're taking very seriously, as we do any such allegation in the church these days. The church learned a long time ago that not taking such allegations seriously did a lot of damage to a lot of people. So a process kicks in immediately when something like this happens. And that process is happening even as we speak.

ZAHN: And, Reverend Hopkins, do you believe this allegation to be true?

HOPKINS: I certainly have full confidence in Gene Robinson. I've known him for a long time. He's a man of extraordinary integrity. And I believe, in the end, we'll find out that, if these allegations weren't false, they were certainly a misunderstanding.

ZAHN: Reverend Anderson, how seriously do you take that possibility, of a simple misunderstanding here?

REV. DAVID ANDERSON, AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL: I hope that's the case. I really -- I don't know what substance is behind this, if anything, but I really hope this is a misunderstanding.

It goes back, apparently, a couple of years. The person who wrote the letter and sent it to all of the bishops advising them of this situation, we don't know very much about the person. They chose to wait until the very last minute. It has thrown everything into a huge quandary. And so, from that standpoint, it's just awkward for the church. But we do hope it is resolved fairly quickly, so that things can move on.

ZAHN: And, Reverend Anderson, of these allegations, you've heard the allegation of inappropriate touching, as well as this allegation of a linkage from the reverend's Web site to a porn site, which of these are you most concerned about?

ANDERSON: Well, I'm potentially concerned about both. But we should be fair and say this is not a linkage from Gene's Web site to a pornography site. This is a linkage from a ministry site, Outright Concord, where there is a link that you can click on that takes you to a pornographic site. And I understand now, as of early -- later in today, that site -- that linkage has been taken off. But it was there before.

ZAHN: And, Reverend Hopkins, are you concerned about the lateness of these charges in the process? Does that make you believe there is some kind of character assassination going on here?

HOPKINS: Well, I certainly don't want to doubt the sincerity of the person who has brought the charges. Obviously, when they come at this late a date, it is natural for anyone to consider them to be suspicious.

On the other hand, I, as a parish priest, know how the dynamics go with victims and that sometimes these things do happen at the very end. So I hold that tension of both being suspicious and wanting to take this man seriously.

ZAHN: And, finally, Reverend Anderson, if Reverend Robinson makes it through this process, what will be the impact of his becoming a bishop on this huge controversy swirling around his candidacy?

ANDERSON: Well, first of all, we would like to discuss and debate the issues, based on Biblical precepts and church doctrine. And this really throws a monkey wrench into the dialogue and debate that we're trying to have. But if this vote takes place, and he is approved as to be a bishop of the church, it is like the Titanic hitting an iceberg.

It is going have a huge impact, both domestically in the Episcopal church and internationally in the global Anglican communion.

ZAHN: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there this evening. Reverend Michael Hopkins, Reverend David Anderson, I know you have had a busy day there, an intense day. Thank you for spending part of your evening with us tonight.

HOPKINS: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

ZAHN: And good luck to you.

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