Despite the gay-affirming actions of The Episcopal Church, a conservative Dallas bishop made it clear to clergy in his diocese that they will not consent to the ordination of a partnered homosexual or allow the blessings of same-sex unions.
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton wrote to clergy in the Diocese of Dallas informing them that they will continue to "stand with the larger Church in affirming the primacy of Scripture, the sanctity of marriage and the call to holiness of life."
Episcopal leaders have insisted that their actions last week – which included approving resolutions that open the ordination process to all baptized members, including practicing homosexuals, and calling for the development of liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex couples – did not repudiate their relationships with the rest of the global Anglican Communion. Stanton, however, says their intent is plain.
"[T]his is de facto a repudiation of the repeated requests directed to us by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Communion, and the Anglican Consultative Council," Stanton said in the Wednesday letter.
After The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003, Anglican bishops worldwide agreed to the moratoria on the consecration of partnered gay bishops and the authorization of public rites blessing same-sex unions. The moratoria were reaffirmed earlier this year by the Anglican Consultative Council – a decision-making body of bishops, clergy and laity – just months ahead of The Episcopal Church's General Convention.
Anglican leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, had also specifically asked Episcopal leaders not to pass any legislation that would further impair the unity of the 77 million-member communion.
And although some Episcopal leaders maintain that the moratoria themselves were not specifically addressed during their triennial convention, Stanton said it is clear from the resolutions passed that "it is the intention of the leadership of The Episcopal Church that the moratoria requested by the Communion are no longer binding."
Posing challenging questions to the Episcopal leadership, Stanton wrote, "[T]he larger question is what it means for 'the Church' to make these decisions: is it right or good, or even possible, for a congregation, a diocese, or even a province of the Universal Church to make its own way and claim to give 'the Church’s blessing' – or God's?"
"The Christian faith is something we receive, not legislate," he added.
Distancing himself and his diocese from the liberal actions of the wider church's leadership, Stanton affirmed the diocese's commitment to continue honoring the moratoria.
"These commitments are in keeping with the historic teaching of the Holy Scriptures as held by the vast majority of the Anglican Communion, and, for that matter, the Church throughout the centuries."