Episcopal Bishop to Stop Blessing Homosexual Unions

In an attempt to win back three conservative breakaway churches, the Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles announced on Tuesday that he would stop blessing same sex unions – although he added that his priests would be open to continue officiating such ceremonies.

Bishop Jon Bruno’s message came three months after three parishes in the six-county Los Angeles diocese chose to reject Bruno’s jurisdiction by joining with the Anglican Church of Uganda. The churches -- St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints' Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood, also broke ties with the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) because of vast theological differences on issues such as homosexuality and the uniqueness of Christ.

Rev. William Thompson, Rector of All Saints Church, explained during an Aug. 30 interview that the core reason has been “cumulative over 40 years.”

“A perception by many of us who sought to hold fast to the traditional view of the supremacy of Christ and the word of God and its authority over the church, was that much of the leadership of the Episcopal church has been gradually and historically moving away from the Christian church and Anglicanism as it has been around the world.”

While Rev. Thompson said there was no one incidence that “broke the camel’s back,” the decision of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) to ordain a homosexual bishop during the 2003 General Convention epitomized the visible difference.

”The decision of the General Convention last year seemed to show that at the highest level, the church was denying scripture. Throughout the scripture, it says the proper relationship is within marriage between a man and a woman; others seemed not to be in God’s plan. The Episcopal Church denied the clear teachings of sexuality,” said Thompson.

Following the separation, Bishop Bruno threatened to “de-flock” the rectors of the three churches. He also pleaded with the ECUSA’s head bishop to step in and urged the bishop of Uganda to return the breakaway churches.

However, the three churches and the Ugandan bishop largely ignored both Bruno’s threats and pleas, reminding him that he no longer had jurisdiction over the parishes.

Tuesday’s proposal was made after several weeks of failed talks between the involved parties.

Also on Tuesday, Bishop Bruno called for an international church summit in Los Angeles; he extended his invitation to the bishops in Uganda who claimed jurisdiction over the three parishes.

According to the Associated Press, however, Bruno’s invitations were “rejected hours after he made them by Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, primate of the Anglican Church in Uganda, and Bishop Evans Kisekka of the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda.”

"Our churches in Los Angeles came to us like children who were running away from home, and we have offered them a safe place to be," they said in a letter faxed to Bruno. "We will not relinquish them into a spiritually dangerous situation."

The faxed letter also encouraged Bruno to repent from “your participation in and promotion of unbiblical behavior and teaching."

Bruno was among the majority of U.S. Episcopal bishops who ordained the homosexual bishop during last year’s convention. The contentious decision has led to the release of an yearlong study on sexuality and unity within the worldwide communion and has largely alienated the entire denomination from its fellow Anglicans in Africa, Asia and Australia.

Bruno meanwhile said he was sorry for the “confusion” but did not apologize for his decision to ordain the actively gay priest as bishop.

"I wish for you to know that I regret any confusion, hurt or offense any of my actions may have elicited in other members of our church or in the Anglican Communion," Bruno wrote.