(Photo: Episcopal News Service / Matthew Davies)
Conservative bishops believe that The Episcopal Church's recent decisions favoring gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions will only lead to disaster.
Although The Episcopal Church reaffirmed its commitment to the wider Anglican Communion, the denomination's actions this past week have few orthodox bishops convinced of the authenticity of that pledge.
"Once again, we are saying we want to be part of the Anglican Communion and that we value that partnership," said William Love, Episcopal Bishop of Albany, according to VirtueOnline. "Yet there is always that 'but' we want to do it on our terms and we expect you to approve that. The rest of the Anglican Communion says it won't."
Resolution D025, approved Tuesday by The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, states that the denomination is still "deeply and genuinely" committed to their relationships in the Anglican Communion while at the same time stating that access to their ordination process is open to all baptized members, including practicing homosexuals.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.
Although Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a letter, dated Thursday, to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams that the newly passed resolution did not repeal a 2006 resolution that urged restraint concerning the election of bishops whose "manner of life" would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion, orthodox bishops believe the U.S. Episcopalians have crossed the line.
"The wider Anglican Communion will now say we have gone too far," Love told VirtueOnline.
"Rather than bringing people into the church it will accelerate the death of The Episcopal Church and will drive people away," he added. "It will accelerate the splitting up of the Anglican Communion and that is very sad. TEC has so much to offer. We are far from being at our best."
The Rt. Rev. Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham in the Church of England, wrote in U.K.'s The Times that The Episcopal Church's actions mark a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.
"In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether," he stated.
"Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing," he continued. "They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other 'instruments of communion' that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practicing homosexuals as bishops."
Commenting on the U.S. body's vow to remain committed to the wider communion, Wright said they should not be fooled.
"[S]aying 'we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules' is cynical double-think," he wrote.
The Episcopal Church widened rifts and pushed the Communion closer to schism when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003. In the months leading up to the U.S. body's triennial General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., this year, Anglican bishops overseas urged Episcopal leaders not to pass legislation on human sexuality.
Although homosexuality has been the main cause of tension and controversy within the Anglican Communion, Bishop David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, said the real issue is the authority of Scripture and Christology.
"Sex is symptomatic of the problems we face," Anderson said, as reported by VirtueOnline.