Pennsylvania and Oregon dioceses begin responding to court decisions on same-sex marriage
The Federal Court decisions on May 19 and 20 declaring unconstitutional Oregon
laws banning same-sex marriage, and the announcements in both states that there would be no appeals
have resulted in a variety of responses from Episcopal bishops in the two states. Two of the four bishops leading the five Episcopal dioceses in Pennsylvania have issued statements. Bishop Sean Rowe, bishop of Northwest Pennsylvania and provisional bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem, issued a statement
noting his approval of the decision, but recognizing that Episcopalians in his dioceses are not united on this matter. He has promised after “reflection and consultation” to issue guidelines for clergy wishing to officiate at same-sex marriages. According to David Virtue
, the provisional bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has given his approval to clergy to preside at same-sex marriages. The diocesan Web site has no information confirming this. No statement has been forthcoming from Bishop Nathan Baxter of Central Pennsylvania, and the guidelines
he set a year ago remain in place. Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh has issued no formal statement. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
indicates that he plans to “consult with clergy and lay leaders on the implications of the court ruling.”
Bishop Rickel of Olympia had set policy
in 2013 that allows clergy to both perform the civil marriage and church blessings. He made no statement following the court decision. Bishop Hanley of the Diocese of Oregon has issued a pastoral letter
authorizing clergy to sign marriage licenses for same sex couples and to use the authorized rite of blessing with two changes which explicitly separate clergy’s civil and church roles.
San Joaquin Episcopal and ACNA leaders meet following court opinion
Bishop David Rice and attorney Michael Glass from the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin have held an initial meeting
with Bishop Eric Vawter Menees and his attorney Russell VanRozeboom on May 22 following release of a preliminary court decision
awarding all diocesan property to the Episcopalians. (See Pittsburgh Update story here
.) The discussions were exploratory, and both groups need to discuss matters with their dioceses. They plan to meet again soon. Presumably, the matters under discussion will include the timing and details of transfer of diocesan property.
Voting concludes on Church of England legislation allowing women to become bishops
All Church of England dioceses except the Diocese in Europe (which was unable to meet during the three-month period set for voting) have voted in favor of legislation
that will allow women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. The matter will now return to the Church of England General Synod in July for final approval. The House of Bishops
met on the 19th and 20th of May and amended their rules to make it harder to change the Standing Order implementing provisions for parishes unwilling to accept a woman as bishop, and voted to explore ways that the rules governing bishops in the House of Lords might be changed to allow women bishops to take seats in that house sooner than current rules would allow.
Archbishop Welby joins in call to prevent execution of pregnant woman in Sudan
Archbishop Justin Welby has endorsed
the Christian Muslim Forum call to prevent execution of Mariam Yahya, a pregnant woman convicted by a Sudanese court of adultery and apostasy for marrying a Christian in 2011. Yahya had a Muslim father and Christian mother and was raised a Christian. Sudanese law forbids Muslim women from marrying Christians and assigns children to the religion of their fathers. Mariam’s husband, also originally from Sudan, became an American citizen in 2005. He is trying to document that their 20-month-old son, who is in prison with his mother, is a U.S. citizen.