Bishops back blessings

With overwhelming support in the House of Bishops legislation on rites for same sex couples passed and was sent on to the House of Deputies for concurrence.

The LA Times writes:

Progressives in the Episcopal Church were on the verge of claiming another victory Wednesday as leaders endorsed the creation of blessing liturgies for same-sex unions one day after they ended a de facto ban on the ordination of gay bishops.

The resolution passed by an overwhelming margin, with 104 bishops voting yes, 30 voting no and two abstaining after a failed attempt by some bishops to kill the measure. The resolution must still be approved by clergy and laity in the church’s other legislative body, the House of Deputies — a step widely viewed as all but certain. The convention ends Friday.

The New York Times writes:

The bishops of the Episcopal Church agreed Wednesday to a compromise measure that stops short of developing an official rite for same-sex unions, but gives latitude to bishops who wish to go ahead and bless such unions, particularly in states that have legalized such marriages.

The Boston Globe comments:

The resolution notes the growing number of states that allow gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, and gave bishops in those regions discretion to provide a “generous pastoral response.’’

Many Episcopal dioceses already allow clergy to bless same-sex couples, but there is no official liturgy for the ceremonies in the denomination’s Book of Prayer. The measure still needs the approval of the lay people and priest delegates at the assembly, which ends tomorrow.

BBC Radio 4 carries a brief item.

Religious News Service:

The shift has been most keenly felt in the two men’s Virginia diocese, which has long been known as a place where liberals and conservatives can disagree without “marching off and denouncing each other,” said the Rev. Robert Prichard, a professor at Virginia Theological Seminary and a convention delegate.

Yet that elasticity has been tested, as 11 conservative parishes — including two large, historic churches — have seceded and joined the rival Anglican Church in North America. Like the Episcopal Church at large, the diocese has tilted to the left after the defections, according to some members.

Causey, 66, who has been a delegate to the last nine General Conventions, said that after decades of debate over homosexuality, it was time for the Episcopal Church to “get off the fence and move on.”

Randle, who lives in Arlington, about 150 miles north of Causey, said he worries about the “serious strains” between Anglicans ever since openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson was elected in New Hampshire in 2003.

The 53-year-old Randle is an honorary lay canon in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, where he has helped build the cathedral, organized relief efforts and used his legal acumen to review sanctions levied against Sudan’s secular leaders.

Ruth Gledhill of The Times:

Bishops in the US dealt a death blow to hopes for unity in the worldwide Anglican Church (sic) when they gave their blessing to services for same-sex partnerships.

The resolution notes the growing number of states that allow gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships and gave bishops in those regions discretion to provide a “generous pastoral response” to couples in local parishes.

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