Presiding Bishop’s statement on Bishop William Love’s November 10 Pastoral Letter and Directive
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued the following statement:
I have read the recent statement from Bishop Bill Love of the Diocese of Albany and am aware of the deep hurt on all sides of the issues it addresses. I have been, and will continue to be, in conversation with Bishop Love about this matter. Along with other leaders in The Episcopal Church, I am assessing the implications of the statement and will make determinations about appropriate actions soon.
We are committed to the principle of full and equal access to, and inclusion in, the sacraments for all of the baptized children of God, including our LGBTQ siblings. For as St. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3, “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12), we also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of The Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage. It should be noted that the canons of The Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact.
In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.
I ask the prayers of all in the Church at this time, as we move forward.
The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The first diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (TEC) to issue a Pastoral Directive that contravene’s TEC’s General Convention’s facilitation of S/S Marriage and S/S Marriage Blessings – Bishop William Love, of the diocese of Albany, TEC – faces the legal sanctions that could accrue to him (like the former TEC Bishop of South Carolina) as a diocesan leader trying to coerce his diocese to act in contravention of a recent determination of the TEC General Convention to allow for Same/Sex Marriage/Blessings to members of every diocese of that Church.
The Resolution of the TEC General Convention does not mean that every bishop or clergy person in every diocese must be prepared to marry or bless a Same-Sex Couple, but it does mean that each diocese must make proper provision – if necessary by delegation – for a rite which has become officially part of the services provided for the welcome and formal recognition of same-sex committed couples of each diocese desirous of using its provisions.
Bishop Love is part of the minority of bishops in TEC who have agreed to comply with the resolution allowing for Same-Sex Marriage/Blessings in their dioceses, but who have expressed an unwillingness to conduct such rites themselves. Most ‘Communion Partner’ Bishops – of whom Bishop Love is one – are thus staying within the polity of TEC, without necessarily being in favour of this Resolution permitting S/S Marriage/blessings.
However, in his issuing of a Pastoral Letter to the effect that he feels such Marriage Blessings are ‘the work of The Devil’ and that he and his diocese will have nothing to do with them; the Bishop is resiling from the agreement made with TEC that the minority Communion Partners will ‘live with’ the effects of the Resolution. He is also, effectively, committing the Diocese of Albany to a course of institutional severance from its parent body, TEC. The Presiding Bishop has no recourse but to take some action against him.
Will Bishop Love decide to leave TEC and to join up with other schismatics belonging to ACNA as a result of the Presiding Bishop’s warning? This would weaken the case for the continuing resistance of the Communion Partner Bishops. However, it is hoped they will stay within the jurisdiction of TEC, proving that dissent on a personal conviction basis is not necessarily an excuse for schism. Unity in diversity is an Anglican Tradition.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand