Church puts lim­its on Love

Re­stric­tions on Albany Epis­co­pal bishop fol­lows his op­po­si­tion to same-sex mar­riage cer­e­monies

Albany Times Union - - FRONT PAGE - By Amy Bian­colli

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.”

Amy Bian­colli / The Albany Times Union

Albany Epis­co­pal Dio­cese Bishop wil­liam Love said he will abide by, but ap­peal, dis­ci­plinary ac­tion from the U.S. Church.

Will Wal­dron / times union

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.

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