Church puts limits on Love
Restrictions on Albany Episcopal bishop follows his opposition to same-sex marriage ceremonies
The U.S. Episcopal Church, responding to the Albany bishop’s continued ban on gay marriage despite national approval, has issued a “Partial Restriction on Ministry” prohibiting him from penalizing anyone for participating in same-sex rites while his conduct is further examined by the church.
In a statement issued Friday morning, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry announced that Bishop William Love “is forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church’s disciplinary process in the Diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage.”
In addition, Love is barred from taking part “in any other matter” that might wind up penalizing anyone in the diocese, whether clergy or lay person, for participating in a
same-sex marriage either in the diocese or elsewhere.
Curry’s “temporary action” follows Love’s Nov. 10 pastoral letter, a strongly worded directive that banned gay weddings in the Albany diocese despite approval by the national church. In July, the General Convention issued Resolution B012, a compromise move that reaffirmed same-sex rites – originally OK’D in 2015 — but allowed individual clergy and bishops in eight more-conservative dioceses to recuse themselves from specific ceremonies. Albany was among them.
Love’s letter addressing B012, citing scripture, reiterated his opposition to gay marriage and expressed his concern that “Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church.” Gays would be better served if encouraged to repent, he said in the directive, which was released two months after diocesan clergy members gathered with him at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich to discuss gay marriage and potential responses to B012.
In his Jan. 11 statement, Curry said he is “aware that Bishop Love’s conduct in this regard may constitute a canonical offense” — specifically, regarding “the promises and vows made when ordained” — and has been referred to Right Rev. Todd Ousley, bishop for pastoral development and “intake officer” for discipline of bishops.
The restriction on ministry is “effective immediately and shall continue until any Title IV matter pending against Bishop Love is resolved,” the statement said. Title IV is the grouping of church laws, or canons, addressing discipline. Curry’s letter added that he or a successor will periodically review the “continued necessity” of the restriction against Love “and amend or lift it as appropriate.” It also noted that Love has a right to object to the restriction.
“While I am persuaded of the sincerity and good will of Bishop Love in these difficult circumstances,” wrote Curry in his statement, “I am convinced that Resolution B012 was intended by the Convention to be mandatory and binding upon all our Dioceses . ... I am therefore persuaded that as Presiding Bishop I am called upon to take steps to ensure that same-sex marriage in The Episcopal Church is available to all persons to the same extent and under the same conditions in all Dioceses of the Church where same-sex marriage is civilly legal.”
The Times Union made a phone call and email inquiries for comment, after which it was provided a letter to the diocese that said Love would abide by the disciplinary action as he appeals.
The Rev. E. Mark Stevenson, who serves as canon — or assistant — to the presiding bishop, said in response to emailed questions that the Curry “is thankful to all involved for the prayerful process of conversation that has preceded the issuing of this Restriction on Ministry. He sees the hard work done here by so many, with deep engagement on all sides, as fulfilling the reconciling work to which Jesus calls his Church.”
Albany Episcopal Diocese Bishop william Love said he will abide by, but appeal, disciplinary action from the U.S. Church.
A space reserved for Bishop William Love at the Cathedral of All Saints on South Swan Street in Albany. the u.s. episcopal Church, responding to the Albany bishop’s opposition to gay marriage, has prohibited him from penalizing anyone for participating in same-sex rites.