TEC clarifies resolutions on human sexuality

Published July 23, 2009

The presiding officers of The Episcopal Church’s General Convention have written two letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury clarifying two resolutions on human sexuality.

The resolutions have been widely interpreted as being in defiance of calls for a moratoria on the election of homosexual persons to the episcopate and the blessing of same-sex unions.

“We understand Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature-a statement that reaffirms commitments already made by the Episcopal Church and that acknowledges certain realities of our common life,” wrote U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, president of the house of deputies. “Nothing in the resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori and Ms. Anderson said D025 has “not repealed” an earlier resolution, B033, passed by the General Convention in 2006. That resolution urged bishops to exercise restraint in consenting to the consecration of bishops “whose manner of life,” (widely understood to mean homosexuality) might distress others in the Anglican Communion.

Resolution D025, passed by the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., affirms that “God has called and may call ‘gay and lesbian people’ to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.”

The resolution on same-gender blessings, C056, acknowledges “changing circumstances” that invite a renewed pastoral response from the church. It also authorizes the U.S. house of bishops and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, to collect and develop theological resources for same-sex blessings.

The resolution “is seen as a continuation of the pastoral response and listening process asked for and encouraged by successive General Conventions and Lambeth Conferences,”  wrote Bishop Jefferts Schori and Ms. Anderson.

 They added that in approving Resolution D025, the Episcopal Church remains “keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other churches across the Communion.”

The letters were also sent to the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thirteen primates, including Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, attended the meeting.

Amid concerns that the resolutions could strain relationships with other members of the Communion, Bishop Schiori wrote “…we value our relationships within and around the Communion, and seek to deepen them…we cannot do that without being honest about who and where we are. We are obviously not of one mind, and likely will not be until Jesus returns in all his glory.” Archbishop Williams expressed his gratitude to the American and expressed the hope “that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart.”

With reports from The Episcopal News Service


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