Skip to comments.Episcopal Church report to address gay issues
Posted on 04/06/2006 6:56:56 PM PDT by sionnsar
The U.S. Episcopal Church may be asked by a special internal commission to avoid electing more gay bishops and repent for the turmoil caused by the one it chose in 2003, according to published reports and remarks from church figures.
A report likely to be issued later this week is designed to address the divisions in the worldwide Anglican community caused by the U.S. church's selection of the first openly gay bishop in Anglican church history.
The Rev. Kirk Smith, bishop of Arizona, has disclosed what he said were expected to be the main points in the report: high caution about consecrating any more gays as bishops; an expression of repentance for the problems caused by the 2003 consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire; and a continued moratorium on blessing same-sex unions.
"All of us ... are concerned about not doing anything to jeopardize further the (church's) standing in the (Anglican) Communion," Smith also told "The Living Church," an Episcopalian publication. He added that the church must remember there are no "second-class citizens" -- a reference to gays -- among its ranks.
While another bishop has offered an account similar to the one Smith made in a letter to his flock, others in the church have discouraged speculation about the report, which is being prepared by a special commission of clergy and laypersons and will be debated at the Episcopal Church triennial convention in June in Ohio.
At that meeting, bishops and delegates may face a vote on whether a gay member of the clergy from California is made a bishop. Next month, church members in the San Francisco area will choose among seven candidates for bishop, some of whom are gay.
The Rev. David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, a group of church conservatives, said centrists among the church leadership are beginning to realize that there really could be a schism.
'PARKED AND LEFT FOR A WHILE'
"I think the gay and lesbian agenda is going to be parked and left for a while," he said in an interview.
David Skidmore, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, said of the current mood among the bishops: "Overall, the House of Bishops is taking a cautious stand ... No one wants to push the Communion to the brink right now and people are open to ways to avert that."
The 77-million-member worldwide Anglican family is called the Communion.
Skidmore said the bishops "also want to respect the integrity of the 2003 General Convention decisions (that approved Robinson's consecration), which were reached prayerfully and through engagement of all perspectives in the church."
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, issued a statement recently that some have interpreted as saying the church's 1998 stand on homosexuality activity -- calling it incompatible with Scripture -- will not be reconsidered at the next Anglican worldwide meeting in 2008.
Episcopal bishops at their recent meeting were told by a top emissary of Williams that Anglicans in the rest of the world would see more gay bishops or blessings of same-sex unions "as a declaration not to stay with the Communion."
But the Rev. John Kirkley, leader of a gay ministry group in the San Francisco area, said, "I don't think there's been a big shift among the bishops or lay members who approved Robinson's elevation."
"There is enormous pressure being exerted by Canterbury," he added, "but all politics is local. The Episcopal Church is one that was born of the American Revolution and I don't think we're going to let anyone take away that autonomy."
A year ago, the bishops of the 2.3 million-member U.S. church agreed not to consecrate any new bishops, gay or straight, or allow the blessing of same-sex unions until June at the earliest.
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