Episcopal Approval of Gay Bishop Resolution Draws Relief, Disappointment

Conservatives reacted with a mixture of disappointment and relief Wednesday after the U.S. Episcopal Church passed a resolution calling for restraint in consecrating bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

Both houses of the 75th Episcopal General Convention concurred on the final language of Resolution B033 after Episcopalians voted down a tougher resolution Tuesday which asked diocese to “refrain from” ordaining gay bishops or developing rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. The weaker nonbinding resolution asks church leaders “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate … whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, co-chair of the Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, described the resolution as "an appropriate and blessed way forward, strengthening the Episcopal Church, strengthening the Anglican Communion, without closing any doors unnecessarily.”

Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, a member of the committee, said it is "the best that we can do," conveying hope that the Anglican Communion realizes the process has been the result of a compromise.

"It's a relief to me because my hope is that we can stay in communion and continue the conversation and affirm the Windsor process," she said, according to Christian Today. "Having this vote in both houses says to the Anglican Communion that we are very serious about our relationship."

The resolution responds to the invitation of the Windsor Report to the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges."

Many conservatives feel however that the compromise resolution does not go far enough to meeting the demands of the Windsor Report and the wider Anglican Communion.

The Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, was doubtful that the resolution represents the "sincerity" that is required by the Windsor Report.

"I don't think there's the willingness to actually enforce it and carry it out," he said, according to Christian Today.

"The best prediction of what a person will do is what they have done before, and a number of the very revisionist bishops have very honestly said, ‘We've been doing same-sex blessings, we've been ordaining homosexual persons and we're going to keep right on doing that,' and I applaud them for their honesty, although I disagree with them."

It was also greeted cautiously by the Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said in a statement released Wednesday, “It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report.

“The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully."

Most parts of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion still regard homosexuality as a sin and have continued to reject the ordination of women as bishops. Many provinces severed or restricted ties with the Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of the communion – after it consecrated the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

The election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop on Sunday was an additional sting to many conservatives throughout the Anglican Communion.

Fort Worth Diocese in Texas has already sent what is expected to be the first of numerous appeals to Dr Rowan Williams requesting “alternative primatial oversight”.

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