US bishop restricted for refusing to allow clerics in his diocese to officiate at same-sex marriages

18 January 2019

EPISCOPAL NEWS SERVICE

Bishop Love speaks during the House of Bishops’ debate on the liturgical marriage equality resolution, at the General Convention, in Austin, Texas, last year

Bishop Love speaks during the House of Bishops’ debate on the liturgical marriage equality resolution, at the General Convention, in Austin, Tex...

THE Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Albany, in the United States, the Rt Revd William Love, has said that he will appeal against a temporary restriction on his ministry over his refusal to allow clerics in his diocese to officiate at same-sex marriages.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry, announced the restriction last week, after Bishop Love wrote an open letter to his flock last November challenging the authority and legality of a recent General Convention resolution.

The resolution requires that all bishops permit churches in their dioceses to hold same-sex marriages where it is legal under civil law.

Bishop Curry said in a statement last Friday that he had since met Bishop Love, as well as the Chancellor of the diocese of Albany, to discuss the matter, and was taking temporary action with immediate effect.

“While I am persuaded of the sincerity and good will of Bishop Love in these difficult circumstances, I am convinced that Resolution B012 was intended by the Convention to be mandatory and binding upon all our dioceses,” he wrote. “I am aware that Bishop Love’s conduct in this regard may constitute a canonical offence.”

In his pastoral letter, Bishop Love said that the resolution would cause “tremendous damage” in his diocese, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion. It had turned “upside down over 2000 years of Church teaching regarding the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony”, and was “in direct contradiction” of the Church’s teaching on marriage, he wrote.

“While I don’t question the sincerity or the well intentions of many in the Episcopal Church . . . I do believe they have been deceived into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the ‘great deceiver’ — Satan. . .

“The Episcopal Church and Western society have been hijacked by the ‘Gay Rights Agenda’, which is very well organised, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful. Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues.”

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Bishop Love finished the letter by issuing a “Pastoral Direction” to the clergy in his diocese: “Until further notice, the trial rites authorised by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.”

The subsequent restriction on his ministry has been imposed to prevent the Bishop’s taking disciplinary action against clerics in his diocese who have officiated at same-sex marriages or were intending to do so.

Bishop Curry explained: “[Bishop Love] is forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church’s disciplinary process in the diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage.

“Nor shall he participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalising in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his Diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his Diocese or elsewhere.”

Bishop Love responded this week: “While I obviously would rather not have had disciplinary action taken against me, and hope to see it overturned in the near future, I will abide by the restrictions placed on me by the Presiding Bishop during the appeal process.”

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