Episcopal leaders sent letters to the Anglican Communion's spiritual leader and primates clarifying the gay-affirming resolution they passed this week.
In an effort to prevent "any misunderstandings," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal House of Deputies, stressed in their letter that "nothing" in their resolution "goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years."
Despite calls by the wider Anglican Communion not to pass legislation that may further impair the unity of the global church body, The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies approved a resolution Tuesday that declares the denomination's ordination process open to all individuals, including practicing homosexuals.
The U.S. body had widened rifts in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop.
In their letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the Episcopal officers said Resolution D025 is "more descriptive than prescriptive in nature" and stressed that it did not repeal a 2006 resolution (B033) that urged restraint concerning the election of bishops whose "manner of life" would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion.
This year, the General Convention considered 16 resolutions regarding the B033 resolution, many of which called for its repeal. In adopting D025, the presiding bishop insisted that the denomination chose to formally state where The Episcopal Church is today, rather than scrap B033.
"This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033," Jefferts Schori and Anderson emphasized in the letter, dated Thursday. "It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025."
They added, however, that some clergy may interpret the newly passed resolution as providing more latitude in consecrating bishops while others may not.
The new resolution states that The Episcopal Church is still "deeply and genuinely" committed to their relationships in the Anglican Communion. At the same time, it recognizes the contributions of gays and lesbians and their homosexual relationships and states that access to the denomination's ordination process is open to all baptized members.
It also notes that members of the denomination disagree about issues of human sexuality.
Aware of the concerns of the wider communion, the Episcopal leaders stressed that the adoption of D025 it "is not our desire to give offense."
The letter was also sent out to the Anglican Communion's 38 primates to explain what the resolution means and clarify the "misinformation circulating through the press and other sources."