Baby of gay couple will be baptised, says Orlando's bishop

15 May 2015

ST LUKE'S CATHEDRAL, ORLANDO

A CATHEDRAL in the United States has agreed to reschedule the baptism of a gay couple's son, days after cancelling the service and telling the parents that members of the congregation had objected to its taking place.

The parents, Rich and Eric McCaffrey, who were married last year, posted the news of the cancellation on their Facebook page, saying they were "angry and heartbroken", after the Very Revd Anthony Clark, of St Luke's Cathedral, Orlando, in Florida, told them that he could not carry out the baptism of their adopted son Jack as planned.

Rich McCaffrey wrote: "Three days before our son was to be baptised he was turned away. At that moment, he was unwelcomed by the church, and denied his rite to be recognized as a Christian."

Protests were launched on social media, and the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Revd Greg Brewer, contacted the couple, asking for a meeting. After this meeting, Bishop Brewer - a known conservative on issues such as gay marriage - sent a letter to clergy and congregations in he which he said that the cathedral leadership had held an emergency meeting and "affirmed their support for the McCaffreys and their child's baptism".

He wrote: "I know that for some, saying yes to this baptism feels like nothing more than pastoral logic, particularly when one starts with the spiritual needs of the child, regardless of the child's family situation, and especially if the church is willing to take up her responsibility for spiritual formation. For others, it feels like a betrayal of the Gospel and a capitulation on my part in my opposition to gay marriage in the church. Please know, for those on both sides of the gay marriage issue, that I have not changed - at all - my opposition to the church's recognition of gay marriage as Holy Matrimony."

He continued: "Are you willing to say 'No' to the baptism of children from a couple that have in their history multiple divorces? If not, why are you willing to give such heterosexual relations a pass, but condemn civilly married gay Christians? Who actually qualifies?

"In other words, we are all broken and sinful people who are deeply in need of the mercy of Christ. There is a child in need of the grace of Christ. There are parents who are committed to raising their son as a Christian."

Rich McCaffrey later posted on Facebook about the meeting that Bishop Brewer "genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled. Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptising our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it."

The cathedral published on its website: "It is important to note that the Dean and Cathedral have always intended to baptise this child. No one, including the Bishop, 'denied' this baptism. We regret the delay, apologise for it, and are working with the family on a revised date."

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