News for Week Ending 7/1/2013
Archbishop of Canterbury visits Middle EastOn June 21, 2013, Anglican Communion News Service announced an upcoming five-day Middle East trip by Archbishop Justin Welby. On the first day of his trip, June 25, the archbishop met with both Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt. (See story here.) The next day, Welby was in Jordan, meeting with its foreign minister. (See story here.) He also went to Jerusalem, where he spoke to Christian leaders in the Bishop’s Peace Garden at the Anglican cathedral. (A story, which includes the archbishop’s remarks and those of Bishop Suheil Dawani can be found here.) He also opened an Anglican diabetes clinic in Ramallah. (See story here.) The Guardian, however, reported unhappiness among beleaguered Christians in and around Bethlehem because they were not visited by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nonetheless, Welby met with Christian leaders from a variety of traditions and was told by Palestinian church leaders that the time he spent with them had created “a new bond between you and the Christian community of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.” (See story here.)
CoE General Synod to meet but avoid homosexuality discussionThe General Synod of the Church of England will begin a five-day meeting on Friday, July 5, 2013. The most important item on the agenda will be authorizing women bishops. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to The Telegraph, motions involving same-sex unions will not be on the agenda in order to focus on the women bishops issue. The church is being criticized for ducking issues of homosexuality, but The Telegraph suggests that bishops may be planning to change their position regarding civil unions, perhaps promoting a liturgy celebrating such unions later this year.
Supreme Court rulings spark commentsThe U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) June 26. 2013, and declined to interfere with a lower court decision declaring unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. (See, for example, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here.) The DOMA decision means that gays validly married can receive federal benefits. In the Proposition 8 case, the justices ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing before the court. The effect is to legalize same-sex marriage in California, and such marriages have already begun. Proponents of Proposition 8 appealed to the Supreme Court to block gay marriages, so that they could appeal to the court for a rehearing. (See KNTV story here.) Their appeal was quickly rejected by Justice Kennedy, however.
Episcopal Church leaders have issued a number of statements in response to the Supreme Court decisions. Thinking Anglicans has collected links to these and to statements from Archbishop Duncan and others here.
There were many celebrations of the two court rulings by LGBT persons and their supporters across the country. Particularly notably was one held hours after the decisions were handed at Washington National Cathedral, an event covered by The Living Church. Bishop of California Marc Handley Andrus has authorized Episcopal clergy in his diocese to “immediately begin officiating at same-sex marriages.”
Bishops express support for South Carolina EpiscopaliansBishops of Province IV met at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 25–27, 2013, for their semiannual meeting. A June 25 press release from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina noted that presentations were to be made to the bishops by Episcopalians who stayed with the church when fellow parishioners left with Mark Lawrence. The bishops wrote an open letter of support to South Carolina Episcopalians on June 27.
A question in South Carolina—a question that has had to be faced in each diocese that has suffered a vote to leave The Episcopal Church—is what clergy mean to leave the church and what clergy mean to remain Episcopal. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has posted a list of clergy in good standing as of June 21, 2013. Presumably, this is a list of clergy who have responded positively to Bishop Charles vonRosenberg’s inquiries about clergy intentions. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) There are 86 people on this list. Curiously, the list of clergy on the Web site of the schismatic group appears to include all clergy licensed in the diocese prior to the split. A PDF file of clergy is available from the site, but it is listed as being correct as of 4/16/2012.