Friday, July 24, 2009

Convention Officers Write Archbishop, Primates on Same-Sex Blessings

From the Living Church-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson have written to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the primates of the Anglican Communion to explain General Convention’s adoption of Resolution C056.

That resolution calls on the House of Bishops, in conjunction with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, to develop and collect liturgies and other theological resources for the blessing of same-sex unions, and report on their efforts at the 2012 General Convention.

In the meantime, the resolution also encourages bishops to provide “a generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

“It is now left to each bishop to determine what such a generous pastoral response might mean in her or his diocesan context,” the presiding officers wrote.

“While the resolution honors the diversity of theological perspectives within the Episcopal Church, it does not authorize public liturgical rites for the blessing of same-gender unions," the letter continued. “The Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, the marriage rites are unaltered, and the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer define marriage as a ‘solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.’”

Bishop Jefferts Schori and Mrs. Anderson previously wrote to Archbishop Williams to explain the passage of Resolution D025, which affirmed “that God has called and may call” gay and lesbian people “to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.” That resolution is widely seen as a repudiation of Resolution B033, passed at the 2006 General Convention.

Though many bishops have commented that such was not the intent of D025, Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona described that action on his website as “a movement away from the ‘restraint’ of last convention’s [Resolution] B033,” calling it “a de facto repudiation of that stance.” Speaking in the House of Bishops, Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia argued that the house needed “to face the fact, the plain fact, that this is a repudiation of B033. It’s just in another guise.”

Archbishop Williams has yet to issue any official response to the actions taken at General Convention.

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