May 28th, 2010
11:22 AM ET

Archbishop of Canterbury slaps Episcopal Church for openly gay bishops

Rifts within the Anglican Communion could widen after the archbishop of Canterbury, who has condemned the consecration of openly gay bishops, urged a diminished role Friday for the Episcopal Church.

Earlier this month, a Los Angeles, California, diocese ordained the Rev. Mary Glasspool, the first openly gay bishop ordained in the church since 2004, when Gene Robinson took his post in New Hampshire. The U.S. church has taken flak from conservative factions for openly gay ordinations.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the nominal head of Anglican Communion, shared his concern when Glasspool was consecrated, saying then that the move would further divide the 77 million-member worldwide denomination that includes the Episcopal Church in the United States.

On Friday, he made an even stronger statement in a letter to the communion.

"Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation," Williams wrote. "There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round.

"It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this."

Williams does not have the power to issue edicts like the pope, but he issued a five-page statement suggesting that provinces (such as the Episcopal Church) or national and regional churches that have broken agreed-upon "promises" should step down from participating in interfaith dialogues.

He said they should also relinquish decision-making powers in a committee
that deals with questions of doctrine and authority.

Following Robinson's consecration, the communion leadership laid out
three promises, or moratoria, according to the archbishop of Canterbury

1. No authorization of blessings services for same-sex unions.
2. No consecrations of bishops living in same-sex relationships.
3. No cross-border interventions (no bishop authorizing any ministry
within the diocese of another bishop without explicit permission).

Glasspool has been in an open same-sex relationship for 19 years, a violation of the moratoria. Robinson also was in a same-sex relationship at the time of his consecration.

Bishop Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut said that while Williams’ statement is “of significance … it’s not as punitive as it might have been.”

He said it was an affirmation of the three moratoria, and he made clear that other churches, not just the Episcopal Church in the U.S., will be affected for having broken promises to the communion as well.

“Many churches across the Anglican Communion because of conscience or their belief in what the Holy Spirit is up to in their local context have lived beyond the moratoria,” Douglas said. “While the moratoria are still before us, such actions do have some ramifications. … If anything, I question the efficacy of the moratoria.”

Douglas also pointed out that not every church is represented on the committees affected by the statement.

“It’s not a question of a privilege being taken away but rather a question of can individuals fully represent the Anglican Communion if the church in which they come chooses to go beyond the limits of given moratoria,” he said.

“It’s another expression of how we’re trying to live with our differences with integrity and not alienate one another,” Douglas said. “I’m still convinced there’s so much more that unites us.”

A spokesman for a conservative Anglican group said, however, that Williams did not go far enough in his rebuke of the Episcopal Church.

Robert Lundy of the American Anglican Council said the Episcopal Church shouldn't be involved in any decision-making bodies within the Anglican Communion as long as it continues to ordain openly gay bishops and violate biblical teachings.

Williams' statement only keeps the Episcopal Church off of certain committees within the communion, Lundy said.

"He [Williams] knows he has to do something because he's under pressure from all sides," he said. "But unfortunately, the step he's taken in our view is not strong enough."

Conservative Anglicans have long called for Williams to punish the Episcopal Church by not inviting the church to the Lambeth Conference, a global meeting of Anglican leaders held every decade.

CNN's Jessica Ravitz and John Blake contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Anglican • Christianity • Culture wars • Episcopal • Gay rights

soundoff (389 Responses)
  1. Stubbycat

    If the Master were here today, he would not recognize any sect of churchianity as his teachings. If it were, the character and love of the minister would be the prerequisite for ministry rather than adherence to "moral" code and scholasticism. The ability to spiritually heal human suffering and uplift individuals to their divine status as sons and daughters of God would be the qualifiers for office. Maybe, someday, these qualities will appear in churchianity and it will finally be Christianity. Until then...

    June 2, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  2. V. Sheldon

    These peel off groups have been a part of the landscape of TEC for better than one hundred years.. Every time the Book of Common Prayer is updated, or a new theological innovation is tried, some people who just can't stand it form their own "church" and go their own way. There are currently over 25 of these schismatic groups in existence today within the US alone (not to mention the others within the wider Communion. They over- inflate their numbers with startling regularity. As a loyal Episcopalian i see nothing new in this. It is the same old song- different day. God bless the ECUSA and our Presiding Bishop.

    June 2, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  3. DLB

    I am an Episcopalian and they consecration of gay bishops does not bother me at all. 5 to 10% of all the people in the world are gay. Not too many years ago it was no women priests, before that who knows? we are all gods children just the way he made us and we are all valued in his sight. I promise many bishops, priests, and laity have done things that were really evil and wrong. All these bishops did was tell the truth about who they were. There have even been a couple of bishops in England ,including an Arch Bishop of Canterbury, that were burned at the stake, and at least one murdered as he prayed in his own cathedral. If you can say the creed and believe what it says that is good enough for me.


    June 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  4. Damien5280

    It's ironic in it's own sense as when the Episcopal Church of the United States was formed, the founders were forced to go to Scotland to find a bishop to elevate a colonial priest in rank to keep the Succession. Canterbury was not an option as we were rebelling against the King who ultimately is the head of the church.

    The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury was against a U.S.Anglican Province over 200 years ago.

    The founders of the Episcopal Church were wise modeling their leadership in the same fashion as the U.S. Government.

    The Presiding Bishop is elected.

    June 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • V. Sheldon

      Not to mention that The Episcopal Church is the daughter of The Church of Scotland- not the Church of England.

      June 2, 2010 at 9:10 am |
    • ImKate

      Actually it was the other way around. The founding fathers modeled the government of the country after the governing model of the church.

      June 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  5. gretchen

    fr jbmar:

    >...God hates sin and the gay/lesbian lifestyle is absolutely defined as sin in scripture....<

    I suggest that YOU go back and read the verses: "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Judge not, lest YE be judged".

    In short, myob and grow UP.

    June 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Mike

      Nice job in twisting scripture. The post said the lifestyle is sin. It is and it's already judged.

      June 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  6. Julie

    There are watchmen on the wall....thank you Lord for them! We will know what is going on in the world around us and know how to prepare. Too bad for those that have hardened their hearts to the Word of the Lord – that is their choice/free will. His Word does not return to Him void....He will punish those who do not believe. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved!

    June 1, 2010 at 10:31 am |
    • SHRIKE

      LOL! Like I said, always good for a chuckle.

      June 1, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  7. BPonCampus

    WoW...all i got to say

    June 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  8. Shame on You -->

    Adam (Man) + Eve (Woman) started this world...Maybe?...Says in bible....This world did not start out with a man with man or woman with woman only man with woman ...the only way that can produce another life form....inserting sperm or a test tube babie is playing god basicly

    June 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  9. pk

    Jesus, through the father and the holy spirit, created Mary Glasspool as she is, a lesbian. He did so in the spirit of love, as we are all created in the image of the creator in a spirit of love. Jesus also endowed Mary Glasspool with the courage and strength of character to live honestly, and in loving commitment to another. God is love, and where there is love, there is God. PERIOD!!! Mary Glasspool is no more a sinner than anyone else walking the face of this earth, you sanctimonious hypocrites. God loves her, and so do I, for having the very kind of compassion and courage that the posters on this web page cleary do not. I defy anyone to show me where Jesus said that being gay is a sin. Your interpretation of the word is just wrong, and more importantly, just because its in the Bible does NOT mean that it is actually God's view. God's actions (i.e creating millions of gays and lesbians who live in loving, committed relationships) speak louder than any words in a book of stories put together by a cabal of men with definite political agendas and little to no knowledge of the natural world.

    June 1, 2010 at 10:22 am |
    • Danielle

      First God did NOT create gay/lesbians in this world. Anyone who say they are bi, it is because they chose to be that way. This is why God destroyed Sodom and Gamara with fire because they were gay. God hates this sin as He does the others but any sin that is committed, it is because that person choose to do it. God would not create gay people when He does not like gay sin.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • swright

      Very well said pk, I could not agree with you more.

      June 2, 2010 at 5:12 am |
    • Joe

      Got created lesbians because they are hot. In fact, supergod, who actually created god, told him to create lesbians. He said, I like chicks on chicks, so go make some lesbians.

      I know, almost as absurb as the bible.

      June 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • Sam

      John 15:10..."If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."

      June 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • Scott

      Joe I see you are still in your procreating years.

      June 4, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  10. Shame on You -->

    God why must you punish us with thi mistake on humanity....GAYS!!!!! WHY!!! GAYS!!!
    Man+Woman=Child.......Woman+Woman=Nothing......Man+Man=sore butt

    June 1, 2010 at 10:19 am |
    • pk

      God, why do you punish us with unitelligent biggots? man+ignorant hate=moronic a–hole.

      June 1, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • SHRIKE

      Spoken like a true hate-filled sancitmonius (closeted gay) Christian.

      June 1, 2010 at 11:16 am |
    • Joe


      Yeah but Woman+Woman+Man=really hot Friday night and just maybe some offspring. Is that a sin if everyone's on board?

      June 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  11. SHRIKE

    These religious-crap sites are always good for a chuckle. WWJD? What farcical nonsense. The worst offenders to the mythical Jesus' teachings are christians.

    June 1, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  12. ThoLe

    Someone ask where in the bible does it say that it is a sin to be gay. Read Romans Chapter (1) one all of it. In addition read the book Leviticus. Read Leviticus (the law) that Paul reference in the New Testament in Roman Chapter 1 verses 18 through 30. Sodom and the surrounding cities were wiped because of this sin. God (Jesus) is not a democracy so read Romans 12:2 and all of its reference scriptures. If you feel that either there is no God and you ignore what is being said then you as a human will never die, but if by chance you do die what you said and believe shall judge you at that time. Please do not tell God well I was just joking because nobody else was obeying you. All except 8 people were wiped out by water because of that belief. Why do you fell that God want do the same again because of wickness.

    June 1, 2010 at 9:06 am |
    • ThoLe

      The word of God "only" decides what is right or wrong. Not man, angles, satan or satan converts, heatherns, unsaved or non-belivers. Keep that in mind always.

      June 1, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  13. Andacar

    I want to state for the record that I no not have a problem with gays in the church or priesthood as such. What I do have a problem with is people who have a radical political agenda that overides the church's mission. Lots of liberal theologians say they no longer find the sacrifice of Christ " compelling narrative." That's code for "we're really athiests and you're stupid to believe."

    June 1, 2010 at 8:50 am |
    • Danielle

      Yes, but why let a man or woman who is living a life of sin by being gay/lesbian and is the head of the church, then they will lead the other members of the church in the wrong direction. Being gay is a sin just like murder, cheating, lying, etc. Gay people will go to hell point blank if they dont change their way just the same for people who commit murder or cheat.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Jesse Fell

    God makes a certain percentage of human beings gay. Are these people God's mistakes, or should we assume that God had a purpose in making them what they are? If we had a purpose, are we to assume that this purpose was, to assign these particular children of his to subordinate roles in life - in particular, to deny them to privilege of proclaiming His Word?

    May 31, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  15. GetReal

    All churches should be actively persecuting pedophiles, rapists, murderers, abusers, and adulterers. Once they've gotten all of those folks in line, then they should go after "sinners" like lesbian bishops. Their priorities aren't straight.

    May 31, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  16. ladycb

    The elders of the church should have counsel her, prayed for her for the salvation of her soul. They shouldn’t have removed her right there and than, God is a deliverer and they didn’t give God the benefit of the doubt to do it. It saddens me when we take from God when it belongs to God!

    May 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  17. BERRY

    I wonder how many of those who posted comments about this has ever been to a Episcopal / Anglican church, not many from what I have been reading. The Archbisop is our spiritual leader, and as our leader it is his job to keep our house in order according to the teachings of the Bible. This subject has split the Episcopal here in the states for a long time and the split is getting wider. Just because we have a different name the teachings are the same and we all use the same Book of Common Prayer. I grew up in a strict Anglican family from birth, and even tho I attend a Parrish who supports aloowing Gay's to serve I don't have to agree with it, but I am not going to split from my Parrish because of it. And from those of you who think they know what is going on when they don't I would urge you to attend a Episcopal and learn first hand what is going on within the church and if you feel you can make a difference then do it.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • JA Bailey

      for the first 39 years of my life I was a member of the Church of England, I asked many uncomfortable questions to which I did not recieve answers, after much soul searching I converted to Judiasm and I have never looked back, to me it answers all my questions in ways that the C of E never could and I have never regretted my choice of 41 years ago.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • pk

      Honestly, I hope they hurry up and split. I can't joing the Anglican church as it is, but as an ex-Catholic, I'd be glad to join the Episcopalian Chruch once it drops its connection to the biggoted side of their relgion. Hurry up!! There needs to be a church for progressive non-biggots.

      June 1, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  18. dcng

    If putting an openly gay person into a position of authority goes against the rules of the church, it's kind of a no brainer. Why on earth wouldn't the Archbiship "slap" the Episcopal Church for that.......these off shoot denominations get themselves in so much trouble by letting the pop culture dictate their faith. If you aren't going to stay the course of your beliefs, don't whine when it becomes a mess that your beliefs depend on what's politically correct.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  19. Trippa

    Being gay is not a sin. Being promiscuous and an adulterer is. For gays or straights.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  20. Trippa

    Where in the Bible does Jesus say it is a sin to be gay? He doesn't. (And I'm straight by the way). (And a Christian). I think when Jesus talked about eunuchs – how some were born that way, and some were made that way by man, he was talking about gays. The word eunuch was probably translated wrong. And Jesus said they were born that way, which gays obviously are, and Jesus accepted them for who they are. I think we should too.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.