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Episcopal Church House of Bishops' Response 'a Grave Contradiction'

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    Episcopal Church House of Bishops response to directive on openly gay bishops and same-sex unions a grave contradiction WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — National
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2007
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      Episcopal Church House of Bishops' response to directive on openly gay
      bishops and same-sex unions 'a grave contradiction'


      WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — National Religious Leadership Roundtable
      members today expressed deep disappointment at the Episcopal Church
      House of Bishops' response to the directive issued by the leaders of
      the Anglican Communion to stop consecrating openly gay and lesbian
      bishops and to ban blessings of same-sex unions. The House of Bishops
      agreed to "exercise constraint by not consenting to the consecration"
      of gay bishops and they also pledged not to authorize public rites for
      same-sex blessings.

      Responses from National Religious Leadership Roundtable Members

      "The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church meeting in New Orleans
      this week faced a daunting challenge: to remain in communion with
      Anglicans worldwide while also respecting the full dignity and
      participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

      "Anglican Christians have always been remarkably diverse, in both
      theology and the practice of ministry. From the beginning, staying in
      communion with each other has meant respecting differences and forging
      compromises. The recent statement from the House of Bishops is no
      different. While agreeing to 'exercise restraint' in any further
      elections of lesbian and gay people as bishops, the statement also
      decried the 'unwanted incursions' of bishops from other provinces of
      the Anglican Communion, which have served only to fuel the fires of
      schism.

      "Like any compromise, the question now before us is whether this
      statement will satisfy those who believe the Episcopal Church made a
      fatal mistake in confirming Gene Robinson as the bishop of New
      Hampshire as well as those who fully support that confirmation. And at
      least two key issues remain unaddressed: Will Bishop Robinson
      participate in the 2008 Lambeth Conference of worldwide bishops? How
      will individual bishops in this country deal with the acknowledged
      'pastoral concern' for same-sex couples seeking a blessing of their
      relationship?

      "Personally, as an openly gay Episcopal priest, I am both relieved and
      disappointed by the bishops' statement. It presents a grave
      contradiction. The bishops reaffirmed their commitment to the full
      dignity and participation of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender
      people in this church. Yet I fail to understand how exercising
      restraint in electing more lesbian or gay bishops and refusing to
      allow blessings of our relationships reflect that commitment.

      "Like many other LGBT Episcopalians, I deeply value our participation
      in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Yet I worry that the burden of
      such unity is once again being shouldered by LGBT people and our
      relationships. In the end, I view this statement as a short-term
      compromise for the sake of respecting the polity of the Episcopal
      Church — bishops in our church cannot act alone but must deliberate
      with deacons, priests and laypeople in our general convention, the
      next meeting of which is not until 2009. Until then, my prayers and
      efforts will be directed toward the 'listening process,' also
      reaffirmed in this statement. And my hope is that Anglicans the world
      over will listen very carefully to the stories of their LGBT sisters
      and brothers and of their faithful and courageous ministry in this
      church."

      — Rev. Jay E. Johnson, Ph.D
      Pacific School of Religion
      The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry


      "It is a profound indictment of the current state of Christianity when
      bishops from any denomination, especially those who have already
      consecrated an openly gay bishop, choose to betray him, as well as
      lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families for
      the sake of the illusion of the unity of an institution. The church is
      already divided. LGBT people and their families are the ones again
      forced to the side by this decision. My heart aches for our LGBT
      siblings in the Episcopal Church. Their bishops are treating them like
      yo-yos instead of as members of the body of Christ. To pull close and
      then later to cast aside as unloved and unworthy is frankly to abuse.
      We call on the bishops of the Episcopal Church to reverse course, to
      right this wrong and quickly."

      — Emily Eastwood
      Executive Director
      Lutherans Concerned/North America


      "DignityUSA continues to support our LGBT sisters and brothers in the
      Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion through the
      difficult days of this continuing debate. As LGBT Roman Catholics, we
      in DignityUSA continue to watch this struggle in the Episcopal Church
      and pray for the day when Jesus Christ's love and inclusiveness is
      fully realized in all Christian churches."

      — Sam Sinnett
      President
      DignityUSA


      "This so-called compromise devalues the experience and potential
      service of gay and lesbian Episcopal priests and gay and lesbian
      persons seeking to live in a family sanctified by their church. Once
      again, a church body is asking gay and lesbian persons to take a pew
      at the back of the church in order to mollify those who do not
      understand that sexual diversity is also part of God's blessing."

      — Rev. Debra W. Haffner
      Director
      Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing



      "This decision is a profound disappointment to lesbian, gay, bisexual
      and transgender people everywhere. The bishops are in danger of
      succumbing to the temptation to bow before an idol called church unity
      when God demands justice.

      "We stand solidly behind the efforts of Integrity to over turn the
      moratorium at General Convention 2009 and pledge ourselves to redouble
      our supportive efforts. We will not go away; we will not be silent.
      Our faith and our lives depend on it."

      — Harry Knox
      Director
      Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program


      The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), convened by the
      National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is an interfaith network of
      leaders from pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) faith,
      spiritual and religious organizations. We work in partnership with
      other groups to promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people
      within society at large and in communities of faith. We promote
      understanding and respect within LGBT communities for a variety of
      faith paths and for religious liberty, and to achieve commonly held
      goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice.

      MEDIA CONTACT:
      Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator
      (Office) 646.358.1479
      (Cell) 787.602.5954
      pjserrano@...
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