Episcopal Church House of Bishops' Response 'a Grave Contradiction'
- 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
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
"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
"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
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."
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."
"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
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."
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.
Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator