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. Atheism4Ever

    Dear John Doe,
    There is nothing to worry about because after you die, my friend, you will become what you have always been even before you were born – cosmic dust. Every single atom in your body came from a large ancient star (a red giant) that depleted its hydrogen, exploded and spit out clouds of gas and dust that provided material for our sun and the planets. This explains why some people may like religion – it makes them feel special, it feeds their ego: “I am not just a speck of dust, when I die I will be greeted by the creator of the Universe”... In reality you will be greeted by worms which will be delighted to recycle your atoms. The process will continue until our own sun depletes its hydrogen fuel and so on... Finally, at some point all matter will collapse into black holes which will eventually evaporate via Hawking radiation. All forms of life will cease to exist... If thinking about it keeps you awake at night, may I suggest a glass of wine. If you don't see any purpose in your life you are not mistaken – there is no purpose. But don't overanalyze and enjoy the time that you have left. By geological time we are here for only a tiny fraction of a second, by cosmological time – even less than that. So, my friend, live as if there is no tomorrow because there is really no tomorrow. Good luck with everything and enjoy the rest of your life!
    P.S. As far as advances in science and technology are concerned, I think it would be fair to say that Edward Jenner (vaccination) and Alexander Fleming (penicillin) saved more lives than all priests combined.

    June 6, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
    • Dan

      The saying is true that you judge other by what you yourself do. It is you who believes that your atheism makes you special; it is you who feeds his ego. Practice what you preach.

      As far a your Priest vs. Ian Fleming argument goes, it is just laughable. Priests are not in the business of saving lives, but rather, of saving souls.

      June 6, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
    • Atheism4Ever

      Dan, I appreciate your sincere response. The crux of the argument about priests (in the postscriptum) was that advances in science and technology significantly improved the life of people on our planet while religious dogma did nothing to advance our understanding of the world and improve our life. You are absolutely correct about the "business of saving souls", which proves my original point that they (priests) are for the most part useless.

      June 7, 2010 at 12:45 am |
  2. Banks David n. brownwood texas

    No wonder most of you'll are so blind you do not have any Ideal what you're GOD is

    June 6, 2010 at 11:19 am |
    • Gary

      Well David If I was born a native American before European invasion I guess the Sun and nature was my God. If I was born in Middle east I guess Muhammad would be. I grew up here in America and was raised Methodist as my folks are. I realize religion is nothing more than a geographical culture trait. I am not blind to the fact that I do not need religous text to be a wholesome moral being. God gave me a brain and intended me to use it.

      June 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • Adam

      I completely agree Banks. It's so frustrating to see sooo many people completely blind to the actuality, divinity, and supremacy of ZEUS, KING OF KINGS! People need to wise up, right Banks? It's just so obvious! I mean, like, DUH!

      June 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  3. Nitrogen

    I love god, who else would I get to make fun of at 3am? He's just so easy to rip on, being nonexistent and all. Hey everyone, let's set up a national tempting god day on facebook! Just like Boobquake and draw Muhammed day! Blasphemy day!

    June 6, 2010 at 4:54 am |
    • Atheism4Ever

      You are spot on, Nitrogen! Great idea.

      "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions", – Thomas Jefferson (speaking about the christian theology)

      June 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  4. Gary

    Earth is billions of years old.....Science is the death of all religions...Oscar Wilde....All thinking men are agnostics.....Mark Twain...We have been through 57 states.......Christian/Muslim Barack hussain Obama.

    June 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  5. pauleky

    Ah, more hate from another "religion of peace". Time to come into the 21st (hell, the 19TH!!) century.

    June 5, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  6. Skepgnostic

    Religion is for sucka's.

    June 5, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  7. Drew

    These churches are not keeping the tenets of the faith and should be directly admonished.

    June 5, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  8. Larry

    The Episcopal Cult long ago abandoned Christianity. It has become nothing but a social club where they dress up and play mass in a mockery of faith. It is a breeding ground for the perverts and deviants. Real Christians left over the years because of the multiple heresies and apostasies of ECUSA.

    June 5, 2010 at 7:29 am |
  9. Mephizell

    LOL. Whatever boy.

    June 5, 2010 at 6:38 am |
  10. corveaux

    if you remove the letter "J", and trace it back, you'll realize that you've all been worshipping 'ZEUS'!!
    Small wonder! The origin of the catholic priests- are the Babylonian priests- who migrated to Rome, bringing all the hodgepodge of religious malarky (including the greek/roman myths)- to achieve the control and extortion, that the religion became.
    Seems that the ancient Romans, found out that there was MONEY in religion, and jumped in!
    Look how many offshoot schemes, scams, and denominations- came out of the babylonian scam at Rome!
    They've lost so many members, and are so desperate for their very EXISTENCE, that they're embracing every
    vile lifestyle on earth. Here's the BIGGEST scam of all: for 2000 years, not ONE of their collective members, priests, gay 'ministers', nor supporters- have ever "believed enough" to have their prayers answered!! (which includes all 300+
    of the posters herein)

    June 5, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • Mephizell

      Good post! I read an article once about a scientific study about the efficacy of prayer for sick, hospitalized patients, and the study concluded that people who were prayed for actually fared 'worse' than those who were 'not' prayed for. Think about what prayer really is...it's basically just glorified begging. People pray day in and day out for the same damn things to happen or not to happen in their personal lives without thinking about just what they're doing. I mean, does the Christian god need constant reminding about what needs to be done? Do Christians think he didn't hear them the first ten times they prayed for whatever it is? AND...why does God even need to be asked to do things if he's so all-knowing? If God already knows the needs of his followers, and Christians believe that he cares for them, then why bother praying at all? Shouldn't Christians just trust him to act accordingly and stop the needless praying? So, Christians: Stop wasting your time and breath with prayer. Praying louder and harder, and more often is getting you no further, and you're making yourself look like a child that's begging his parents for candy everyday.

      June 5, 2010 at 7:01 am |
    • krinipi

      Mephizell – I do not pray in order to change God's mind. As you point out, it is silly to believe in a completely loving, benevolent being whom you have to convince to do good things for you. I pray, instead, in order to change my own mind, to help me see the world around me more clearly.

      June 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  11. Nitrogen

    I hereby call upon all non-theists to refer to god, his pronouns, and all related materials in strictly lowercase. I am sick of English grammar being befuddled by his needless exceptions.

    June 5, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • DanW

      It's not aneedless exception. God is a proper noun when used in the Christian sense; it is a common noun used as a name, thus requiring a capital letter. My cousins Autumn and Sunshine would agree, I am sure.

      June 6, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  12. corveaux

    the actual origin of the name 'je-sus christus'- is latin, meaning "I am conscious'. Now, you know the actual meaning of 'christlike': anyone who isn't comatose.

    June 5, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • DanW

      You need to go back to school for your Latin, son. "I am" in Latin is "Ego sum" not "je sus." LOL... Christ comes from Greek "Christos" meaning "annointed" and is the Greek translation of Hebrew "Meshiyach" or Messiah.

      June 6, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  13. corveaux

    WWJD? so many of you posit? The answer is: WWED, the letter "J" doesn't EXIST in any of the biblical languages: Aramaic, Hebrew, nor Greek. In fact, the letter "J" is less than 1000 years old. Your New Testaments are FORGERIES, in every passage containing the impossible letter "J". Sorry to bust your bubbles and expose centuries of outright LIES, but emmanuel has never answered to that name, nor ever will.

    June 5, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  14. Janine

    Anyone who wants to be a bibliical literalist here has a hard row to hoe. There isn't a single word in the Bible against women lying with other women. That is why Puritans did very little to those women who were caught with other women–they were considered "unchaste," and that's about it. One cannot call the Puritans particularly "liberal."

    I'm with the person above who wants to follow Jesus and is a "red letter Christian." That's the way I was raised, and I'm sticking to it. There isn't one word in red letters about gay people–only about straight people and how their marriages should not be put asunder. I wonder how many of the biblical literalists posting here are divorced. It would be fun to be able to find out how many sins named by Jesus which they happen to be committing.

    June 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  15. moses

    correction shall not inheret the kingdom of god on above

    June 4, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  16. bailoutsos

    Went by a Catholic church today and saw a sign that stated "Character Development – Summer School for Boys." Odd that there is nothing for girls.

    June 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • moses

      (1 corinthians 21 )Ye cannot drink the cup of the lord ,and the cup of the of the devils: ye cannot be partakers of the lords table, and of the parttakers of devils 1 corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrightous shall not inherit the kingdom of god? be not deceived : neither fornicators ,nor idoltares ,nor adulterers,nor effiminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind...
      shall inheret the kingdom of god. The gay part of the church should just change their name from epicostal to something else but it is clear this part of the church is drinking of the cup of satan ,and not of god's.

      June 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  17. Joe

    Darn carpet munchers. That's why god is spewing oil all over the Gulf.

    June 4, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Atheism4Ever

      Are you just being sarcastic by mocking Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson?

      June 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
    • Joe

      Ya think

      June 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • buckeyenutlover


      June 7, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  18. Mephizell

    Sorry, but SIN is a human invention. Being an agnostic, I don't believe in such things, nor am I bound by the fear or guilt of sin like Christians or other theists. Morality for its own sake, without belief in God is totally possible and is so much more satisfying than the alternative. I used to believe in God until late adolescence when I began questioning everything, and then there was no turning back. Why people shackle themselves with religion is baffling. I guess so many people are just made to believe in so many things as children...like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, that believing in God and going to Sunday school (brainwashing) is just one more thing you're made to do. But once you've crossed the barrier into atheism and agnosticism, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

    June 4, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • Phil

      I used to be a questioner and non-believer too. Then my search ended and I knew that Jesus is who he said he is. I hope your search ends soon too.

      June 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  19. john

    without religion there would be no hypocrisy. throw out the bible and there would be no reference to teach
    hate. god didnt write the bible. it says thou shalt not kill in the bible so why are so many people executed in
    federal and state prisons if everyone is so religious. you cant be a christian and then follow the bible at your

    June 4, 2010 at 8:59 am |
    • Eric G

      Yes you can follow any religion at your convenience. Believers just explain it away by saying, "Well, that is just a metaphor" or my personal favorite, "I know what the bible REALLY means to say". It's all make believe. We made it all up. Just like the Boogie Man. Kind of like Fox News, people don't want to hear the truth, they just want someone to agree with their take on reality in a different tone of voice.

      June 4, 2010 at 11:23 am |
    • Phil

      the Word says "Thou shalt not _murder_" There are times killing is necessary. If you found me hurting your children you could kill me to stop me, and not many would say you were wrong>

      June 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  20. John

    I would love to see the looks on the faces of many of these haters if they had to stand before Jesus after dealth and found out that while a man on earth he was gay. Their minds would immediately be flashing back to how they treated gays during their lives. The fact is it does not matter whether Jesus was gay or not. What matters is he clearly intrructed us all to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. Unfortunately that is way down on the list for most self proclaimed "Christians".

    June 4, 2010 at 8:50 am |
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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.