Anglican, Episcopal Churches Wrestle with Role of Gays

June 19, 2008 07:01 AM
by Anne Szustek
Traditionalist bishops plan to skip a decennial policy conference next month over what they perceive to be excessive liberalism in application of doctrine.

30-Second Summary

Some Anglican and Episcopal churches have quietly accepted church blessings of same-sex couples for some time. And in 2003, the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, ordained openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire.

The role of gays was a main topic of a meeting of 160-odd Episcopal bishops last September in New Orleans. In a move to assuage conservative dioceses, the clergy pledged to “exercise restraint” and not instate more gay bishops or formulate a liturgy for same-sex matrimony.

Episcopal Church presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the agreement “lessens the possibility of schism.”

But the London church union of Westminster Abbey priest Peter Cowell and Waikato, New Zealand priest David Lord has put the issue of gay clergy and marriage to the forefront as the church prepares for July’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting held every 10 years where Anglican Communion bishops discuss church policy. The 1998 conference ruled that gays should be embraced as members of the church, yet it “cannot advise” ordination of homosexuals or bless gay marriages.

But these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, says the Rev. Dr. Martin Dudley, the priest who officiated in the ceremony. Insisting that it was a “blessing” rather than a marriage, the BBC said that Dudley finds it “hypocritical that the church accepted civil partnerships, but not just in church.”

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, expects that this will be a heated topic during this year’s conference and plans to keep discussion varied. But 200 traditionalist bishops are boycotting over the issue, and plan to hold an alternative assembly in Jordan.

Headline Link: ‘Anglican Church in Meltdown over Gays and Women’

Video: ‘Anger at Church “Gay Wedding”’

Background: Lambeth Conference resolution on gays, Church curbs gay ordination

Related Topic: ‘Vatican Puts Its Foot Down on Female Priests’

Reference: The Anglican Communion


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