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Episcopal Church Prepares to Punish New York Bishop for Barring Homosexual Marriages in His Diocese

01-14-2019

A New York bishop now faces disciplinary action after barring all same-sex marriages in his Albany-based diocese.

The Rev. William Love claims the church has been "hijacked by the Gay Rights Agenda," according to The Associated Press.

Last week, the Episcopal Church nullified Love's order.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote that Love's action "may constitute a canonical offense" and referred his case for disciplinary review. While the case is pending, Curry placed restrictions on Love that forbid him from penalizing clergy, laity or worshippers in the diocese for arranging or participating in same-sex marriages.

Last July, church leaders passed a Resolution B012 that gives bishops with theological objections to same-sex marriages the option of having another bishop conduct the wedding ceremony. The new policy went into effect on Dec. 2. 

Love said he would abide by the restrictions against him but would appeal any disciplinary action.

"While I obviously would rather not have had disciplinary actions 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," he said in an open letter to the diocese on Friday.

Love wrote in an eight-page letter in November that: "The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the 'Gay Rights Agenda,' which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful."

"Jesus is calling the Church to follow His example. He is calling the Church to have the courage to speak His Truth in love about homosexual behavior — even though it isn't politically correct," Love wrote.

"Sexual relations between two men or two women was never part of God's plan and is a distortion of His design in creation and as such is to be avoided. To engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and women, is against God's will and therefore sinful and needs to be repented of, NOT encouraged or told it is OK."

He added: "Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues."

Curry said that while he believed in Love's sincerity and goodwill, the policy was mandatory for all dioceses.

Reaction among other Episcopal bishops was mixed. 

The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, bishop of the Illinois-based Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, told The Christian Post that he considered Resolution B012 to be a "lesser evil."

"It is preferable to General Convention simply making no provision at all for dioceses that retain the traditional Christian teaching on marriage," said Martins. "But it deeply undermines the relationship between a bishop and the parishes of that bishop's diocese. It hampers the bishop's ability to be the chief teacher and chief liturgical officer in a diocese."

Martins described his diocese in central and southern Illinois as "generally quite traditional," noting that "a solid majority would not be supportive of same-sex marriage."

However, Martins also added there were other also differences between his diocese and church leadership. 

"I am deeply sensible that the faith of which I am a steward as a bishop is something I have received, and is not mine to alter in an attempt to improve it. I am accountable to the witness of scripture and Christian tradition, not the other way around," said Martins.

"The mainstream of The Episcopal Church seems to see the Holy Spirit behind every new direction they might be inclined to pursue. I am skeptical of that," he told the Christian news website. 

The Rt. Rev. George Sumner of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, told The Christian Post that while he believed Resolution B012 was "flawed," he also considered it "a good-faith effort to maintain unity amid strong theological difference."

"We are doing our best to implement it as we are required to do, and three of our rectors have requested to receive alternative episcopal oversight," said Sumner.

"While we do not agree with the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on the marriage issue, he has been a friend to traditional Episcopalians. Meanwhile, the Book of Common Prayer, our standard of doctrine, remains unchanged."

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