News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
November 12, 2009

The Episcopal Church’s 100 domestic dioceses are unevenly divided over whether or not they will allow rites for same-sex blessings to occur in their dioceses following the passage of Resolution C056 at General Convention last summer.

In 2003 General Convention passed resolution C051 which recognizes that “local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.” The 2006 General Convention defeated a resolution that would have implemented a moratorium on rites for blessing same-sex unions.

By GC2009 the moral landscape had shifted even further to the left. Bishops and deputies passed Resolution C056 which called for collecting and developing theological and liturgical resources and design liturgies and to report to the 77th General Convention for further action.

Dean Robert Munday, President of Nashotah House, noted the word games being played by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. They struck “and design liturgies” from the final form of the resolution, he said.

“Even if only the word ‘collect’ had been used, it would have been sufficient to allow for the development of liturgies for same sex unions, because you can’t collect something that does not exist.”

Only gullible bishops would be willing to bet that other bishops will not interpret these words as support for allowing the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses, given that such “generous pastoral responses” have already occurred even without such a resolution. The GLBT organization, Integrity, and some of the more realistic bishops have already said that this is exactly how they interpret C056, said Munday.

The action of General Convention caused two Episcopal bishops of orthodox dioceses to say the actions of General Convention 2009 had pushed The Episcopal Church over the edge and will accelerate splitting the Anglican Communion. Albany Bishop William Love described it as the final straw. “The wider Anglican Communion will now say we have gone too far.” He was right.

But it has not stopped the stampede by liberal and revisionist bishops to leap into the pansexual stream offering rites for same-sex blessings and, in some cases, marriages that will only further polarize the Anglican Communion.

The dioceses listed below have unofficial, but in some cases official policies, allowing the blessing of same-sex relationships. The Navajoland Mission and the “reconstituted diocese of Quincy” could not be reached for comment.


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