The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire, took a point of personal privilege in the House of Bishops Monday morning. After recalling the moment nine years ago today when false allegations were brought against him during his confirmation hearings, he spoke of recent “mischaracterizations or lies” that he said have been brought against him by two bishops, as well as by VirtueOnline.org. Here is a transcript of additional comments Robinson made today in the House.
“Some years later, Bishop John Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida at the House of Bishops’ meeting in Puerto Rico asked for my forgiveness for having believed things told to him about me, and that he had joined in that questioning about my fitness for the episcopate, which he came to understand had been a lie, and I of course forgave him and he and I have become actually very close.
Last night I received an e-mail from John Howe saying that he had been contacted by two bishops of this house, saying that I had said on the floor of this house that I had no intention of reading the communication from the nine bishops that we have been discussing.
It was either a lie on those two bishops’ part – the purpose of which I cannot imagine, and I cannot understand how that builds up the body of Christ – or it was something that I said that was misconstrued, and I want to be very clear that I have read every word communicated to us since arriving here at convention and I took it seriously and it helped me understand where those bishops were coming from.
Also last night I received an e-mail from a person who calls himself a correspondent for VirtueOnline, wanting me to comment on whether or not my beloved Mark and I are having relationship problems, and whether or not we are discussing or planning a divorce. I have no intention of responding to that e-mail. It is nobody’s damn business.
I just need to say to this house that for nine years I have borne a level of scrutiny the likes of which I believe most of you can only imagine, and there is a limit to what one person can bear. And to think that while we were discussing reconciliation yesterday, two of you were emailing Bishop Howe to mischaracterize or lie about what I had or had not said on this floor wounds me deeply. I believe that I have treated every one of you and maybe even especially those of you who have disagreed with me with nothing but honor and respect and I have listened to you every time you have wanted to speak to me. And most of you have listened when I have spoken to you.
I have only three and a half more days as an active bishop in this house and less than six months as an active bishop of this church. Can you cut me a little slack, please? Can you find it in your heart, if you’ve got a question about something that I’ve said or done, to ask me personally? I will answer you truthfully. We disagree about lots of things, but can’t we actually abide by the guidelines that we have set? I know I’m tired; it’s been a long nine years and it’s been a long and taxing Convention. I may be out of place here, but I am telling you I’ve had just about all I can take. You may question my motives for saying this – I don’t even know what my motives are, to be honest with you. It’s just that I’m pleading with you. Let’s not talk about reconciliation; let’s actually attempt it. I believe it was G.K. Chesterton who said, ‘I have nothing against Christianity, it’s just that I’ve never seen it tried.’ Can we try together, please? Thank you.”