"While the Episcopal Church's rite for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony - in which marriage is called a 'bond and covenant [between a man and a woman that] was established by God in creation' - has not changed, some members of the laity and clergy are determined to modify it." --IRD Anglican Action Director Ralph Webb
Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton email@example.com; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, Mar. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- The House of Bishops met for their annual spring retreat in Texas, on March 16–21. It adopted a resolution conveying the mind of the House. Both that statement and the House's letter to the Episcopal Church reflect a strongly negative disposition towards the February communiqué issued by leaders of Anglican Communion provinces, who are called "primates." At the same time, the House did not directly address the primates' call for the Episcopal Church to end both all authorizations of same-sex blessings and all consents to the consecration of bishops in a same-sex relationship. They instead chose to delay discussion until their September meeting, after the Episcopal Church holds church-wide conversations on these issues - just a short period of time before the primates' September 30 deadline or the House's response.
IRD Director of Anglican Action Ralph Webb commented,
"The bishops' March 20 statement strongly suggests that that the Episcopal Church will neither meet the primates' requests nor change the Episcopal Church's direction toward what Episcopal progressives call the 'full inclusion' of gays and lesbians. When the bishops 'proclaim [that] ... gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church,' do they mean to imply approval for same-sex blessings?
"Additionally, the House talks about the 'full and equal participa[tion]' of not only gays and lesbians, but women. Since women have been ordained as bishops, is the House implying that non-celibate gays and lesbians should be as well?
"The Episcopal Church's current stance on same-sex blessings - that official rites cannot be developed but blessings at the local level can be acceptable pastoral measures if they are permissible in the diocese - not only runs against the teaching of the Anglican Communion, but strikes a blow at the institution of marriage. Any heterosexual blessings outside of the institution of marriage have the same effect, as does the consecration of any bishop or other member of the clergy living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.
"Some progressive Episcopalians also are calling for, and some have committed themselves to, a radical 'fast' from all marriages until gays and lesbians can also be married. So while the Episcopal Church's rite for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony - in which marriage is called a 'bond and covenant [between a man and a woman that] was established by God in creation' - has not changed, some members of the laity and clergy are determined to modify it.
"Which way will the Episcopal Church go? The bishops ended their statement by saying that they 'now determinedly turn' toward the Episcopal Church's mission. From all indications, it looks like a turn away from interdependence within the Anglican Communion, and a turn toward autonomy. Such a turn would allow the Episcopal Church to fulfill its increasingly progressive understanding of both the church's social witness and the gospel - and open the door for eventually changing its definition of Holy Matrimony."