New England and Iowa bishops ponder next steps

The Boston Globe spoke with several bishops who are most affected by the General Convention’s resolution to allow bishops and clergy to make a pastoral response in states with marriage equality:

In interviews yesterday, none of several bishops interviewed said they were immediately prepared to allow priests to officiate at same-sex weddings, which remain prohibited by the canons of the Episcopal Church.

But, citing the denomination’s decision Friday to allow bishops in states where same-sex marriage is legal to “provide generous pastoral response’’ to same-sex couples, the bishops indicated that they are looking for ways to allow priests to at least celebrate, if not perform, gay nuptials in church.

“The problem is the prayer book says that marriage must conform to the laws of the state and the canons of the church, but if we respond to the laws of the state, we are in violation of the canons of the church,’’ said Bishop Stephen T. Lane of Maine, where the situation is further complicated by a possible referendum to overturn same-sex marriage. “We’re trying to respond pastorally, but not to get so far beyond the bounds of what the church understands that our clergy are just sort of hanging out there.’’

Lane also said bishops of New England, where same-sex marriage has been approved in every state but Rhode Island, are hoping to reach a common plan, because “we don’t want people running back and forth between the New England states.’’

“The folks who would like to be married are members of our congregations and will have a legal right to marriage should the law be upheld,’’ Lane said. “Clergy are caught trying to be faithful both to the canons of the church and the laws of the state, and some flexibility will help us make good pastoral judgments while the church wrestles with the definition of marriage and the rites in the Book of Common Prayer.’’

Read more here, including this response by Bishop Gene Robinson:

In an interview yesterday, Robinson said he expects to get married to his longtime partner once same-sex marriage becomes legal in New Hampshire, in January. Robinson said Episcopal priests in New Hampshire have been long been allowed to bless same-sex couples, including those in civil unions, and that he expects to continue to ask priests to bless, but not legally officiate at, same-sex weddings.

Past Posts