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. Calvin

    The episcopal thing..is not a Christian church. Not in the USA anyway. They are not believers.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:48 am |
    • Gary

      Folks are born either straight or Gay ...period

      June 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  2. rainier08

    Hey, anyone having a problem with gay people being included in all aspects of the church are certainly free to leave. maybe join the catholic church where their moral compass is beyond reproach.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  3. ricky

    .How in the hell can you be preached to by a man living in sin. That just shows how stupid people have become

    June 4, 2010 at 4:48 am |
  4. Veritas

    I'm an Episcopalian, so I feel I have a right to respond. Unlike so many others who are obviously NOT Episcopalian or Anglican, and yet are spreading their evangelical points of view. First, let me say that I am Anglican first and Episcopalian second. The Episcopal church is WRONG in allowing the ordanation of openly, practicing homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions. Romans 1:26-27 is pretty clear. Secondly, if you are not an Episcopalian or an Anglican, then you really don't have any right to comment on what we do within our Church or our Communion. There are a lot of evangelical fundamentalists, Catholics, and atheists who, quite frankly need to mind their own business and let us within the Anglican Communion decide these important issues. If you would like to join us, we'd LOVE to have you, regardless of race, color, gender, sexual preference, etc. But as long as you chose to remain on the outside, how about keeping your opinions to yourselves.

    June 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
  5. Iconoclast

    All this hatred and fighting because of a 2000 year old lie. The "bible" is nothing more than a contrived mythology perpetrated on mankind by a clerical hierarchy intent on consolidating and keeping power. The concept of "god" is a construct of man, a boogie man to keep children quiet at night. "If I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take" nighty night little ones, sleep well pondering that one!

    June 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
    • John Doe

      At least the image of the afterlife, heaven and God our Father comforts us at the time of death. I just hate picturing myself being simple dirt on the same ground people step on, drive over, throw their waste and spit on. If this is all a myth, I'd choose it over your version of "reality". If God is a construct of man, why don't you try to be a genius and figure out what has created the universe? Even our geniuses can't explain that and are still playing with formulas if the already haven't passed away leaving the case open. We're putting billions of dollars researching an "infinite" mystery about where we came from. Really how smart can we get? I'd take the so-called contrived mythology so I don't have to figure out things that we will never figure out.

      June 4, 2010 at 2:38 am |
    • Nitrogen

      Hey JD, people are actually doing that figuring out stuff you're talking about right now. They're called physicists, and they are WAY smarter than you. Every day god loses a little turf as we realize, 'hey check it out, I can understand the universe through fact instead of faith.' And btw the origin of the universe is not infinite. Pull your head out of the lies for 5 seconds and read a physics book for a little bit. I promise it won't take long for you to realize your entire system of belief is in danger of being disproven by logical arguments. Gasp. And actually, afterlife seems incredibly selfish to me. Why would we get to destroy and dominate this planet, then get to escape and go to an even more perfect place? Doesn't sound very fair. I would prefer to have my constituent atoms spread all over the place and be recycled into the biosphere.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:03 am |
    • Joe

      "Really how smart can we get? I'd take the so-called contrived mythology so I don't have to figure out things that we will never figure out."

      Wow, just wow. I'd thought I'd heard everything until this. How smart can we get? are you serious? We can obviously get a lot smarter than you. Are you really justifying the pursuit of ignorance? Are you really saying that we should not try to figure out things we do not yet have an answer for?

      I'm stunned!

      I don't even know where to start in responding so such a colosally stupid remark. Good thing Franklin, Edison, Tesla, Pasteur, the Wright Brothers, Galileo, Newton, or Einstien did not feel the same way aor we would be living caves with no electricity and no medicine believing that the world is flat and that the sun circles it. We'd probaly then write some collection of stories to explain it all because we'd have been completely ignorant of science. We'd be really surprised to find out that 2000 years later people would still believe our story book even though science would have debunked most of it.

      Christians don't believe in gravity, it's intelligent falling*

      June 4, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  6. Andy

    That's what you get for letting girls be bishops

    June 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
    • John Doe

      Not only that... girls that are trying to be guys or, playing a lifetime role of a guy or want to be a guy. I guess it's ok to "alter" God's creation????? Simply rip out pages in the old testament about Adam and Eve.... by what it seems like, somebody prefers a story about Adam and Adam2, or Eve and Eve2.

      June 4, 2010 at 2:27 am |
  7. Cant_Help_Myself

    Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If a person is not lost then he/she has no need of Jesus. I, myself, am lost and I do need Him. The church is a community of the openly needy- a hospital. Being an openly-gay Christian is like being broken yet calling yourself fixed. So, it makes no sense for an openly-gay person to call his/her self a Christian. That being said, Christians judge each other for the sake of the community and should have no interest in judging those outside the church. However, gay, straight, or something else, you are always welcome to come to Jesus, the Great Physician, if you find yourself broken and in need of help. He loves us, oh how He loves us.

    June 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Wm Skadder

    Christians and the like, all hyprocrites to say the least. You mold and form your actions, life, and opinions to fit your need. You certianly don't live by the Bibles teaching or JC"s teachings. What ever suits you. You've made relegion a joke, a scam. Your answer to everything is "Have Faith, God Bless you". The minister who owed me a large sum of money would always invoke the God Bless You BS,, never did pay back the money. Men of God preying on young people, molesting them, lying, covering it all up, continues to modlest and continues to cover it all up. Religious people, always have an answer, always have an excuse, always hide behind the bible or their belief. You go to church just to be seen, "just in case Christians." ou straddle the fence. You people can't even agree on the Bible;s teachings. You hate one another, Catholics against the Jehova Wittness, One religion against another. You are the damnation of Religion. GOD BLESS YOU

    June 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  9. JJ

    2 Peter 2
    False Teachers and Their Destruction
    1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
    4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them into gloomy dungeons[b] to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.[c] 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature[d] and despise authority.

    Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

    13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[e] 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

    17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"[f]and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

    June 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Gary

      earth is billions of years old.

      June 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  10. Lou Ruiz

    Children have imaginary friends, adults have god.

    June 3, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  11. Jack

    The "Church". Judgment. Their own history. How schizophrenic.

    June 3, 2010 at 12:28 am |
  12. Gary

    Did God make us in his image or do we all make God in ours?

    June 2, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  13. GODISI

    attention followers you want to shut this churches down they are selfish and controling ass backward thinking individuals who need your money to control the world leave the church and start living your lives. Go out and help someone help yourselves help somone in need stop throwing money at these controling organizations who do nothing but screw up people lives and kill leave the church now and dont look back its the best thing I did in my life trust me from someone who did it

    June 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • John Doe

      If they world does it your way, it will be a world of chaos and anarchy.

      June 4, 2010 at 2:23 am |
  14. David

    The entire anglican communion survives on the financial support from the united stated episcopalians. If Rowan thinks for five minutes the union can survive without the money generated by this country he is sadly mistaken. England has less than 25% in church attendance and contributions are even less. If he wants to survive on the contributions of the African church get ready for sack-cloth.

    June 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  15. Sam

    How sad that religion feels it's their so-called empowered right to tell the rest of us how we should live/love/worship, when in fact, if they would all just mind their own business and leave the rest of us alone. Just thinking of the words of the John Lennon song "Imagine" and how it would seem to apply, especially in this day and age.

    June 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  16. getalife.com

    What I don't get, is why the hell lesbians/gays feel that they need to dabble in everything??? It is common knowledge that most religion condemns lesbianism, gays, etc. so WHY persist on being part of an organization(S)that obvisously has no respect, and does not accept your lifestyle? All of you idiots who are speaking out against the church..guess what? GET OVER IT!! NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO ACCEPT YOUR LIFE OR LIFESTYLE THATS THE WAY THE WORLD TURNS!

    June 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Lou Ruiz

      You can also add to this list: Blacks, the Handicapped, Others of different creeds, Women, shellfish, pork and other stupidities. Wake up already, all that you believe is just made to control you. You can pretend to overlook the past but we will be here to remind you of the parts of the bible you chose to ignore.

      June 3, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • Ed

      Well said. Enough of this nonsense of forcing people to accept an abomniable lifestyle and please don't equate it to civil rights. Blacks didn't choose to be black. Gays do. Equality is one thing. Acceptance is another. Even with civil rights, there is a general acknowledgement of equality but not everyone accepts. Some gays have an agenda and it is force acceptance of their lifestyles down the general populace throats and recruit as many as possible. Oh and by the way, just what does the Bible say about this lifestyle?

      June 3, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  17. Martin

    Jesus was gay, haven't you heard? The Church can include gays, can have gay priests, can keep the gay bishops it has, but can't appoint any new ones. Huh? Just goes to show how far organized religions stray from their alleged spiritual mission. It all comes down to holding on to the power base. Pathetic!

    June 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  18. AshannaK

    I made a comment almost fifteen minutes ago. Apparently the 'powers-that-be'
    don't like the fact that I said that Jesus welcomed everyone and that when you
    point a finger at someone, you point three back at yourself. Hope this gets

    June 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Scott

      I'm on the other side of the debate and I'm getting the same thing sometimes. I think it's just a lot of people posting.

      June 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  19. McDuff

    To simplify the argument for ordaining gays/lesbians as bishops:

    So long as it doesn't hurt anyone, Christians should not be held accountable for their sin. After all, everyone sins, so therefore everyone should be eligible for ordination. God makes no demands on us for morality.

    Must be nice to have a faith that makes no demands on you.

    June 2, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  20. SHRIKE

    Religious people are mentally retarded. Doctors should try to find a cure for them.

    June 2, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • Scott

      So if I say that gays are retarted and doctors should find a "cure for them" I'm assuming you would agree with that statement?

      June 4, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
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