(RNS) The Episcopal Church has been removed from Anglican committees that engage in dialogue with other Christians and consider doctrinal issues, the latest fallout from the church’s consecration of a lesbian bishop last month.
The Rev. Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide fellowship that includes the Episcopal Church as its U.S. branch, outlined the demotions in a letter published on Monday (June 7).
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, proposed the removals last month after Episcopalians in Los Angeles consecrated an open lesbian as an assistant bishop. Bishop Mary Douglas Glasspool is the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, after Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who was consecrated in 2003.
After Robinson’s consecration, all 44 member churches in the Anglican Communion were asked to abide by three moratoria: no more gay bishops, no official blessings for same-sex unions, no interfering in each other’s provinces.
While most Episcopalians support ordaining gays and lesbians as bishops, many Anglicans in the 77-million-member communion view homosexuality as a sin, and have angrily confronted the Episcopal Church. Williams had warned Episcopalians that consecrating Glasspool would have “consequences” for their role in the communion.
Kearon said he wrote to Episcopalians on the affected committees last Thursday to inform them of the changes. The one Episcopalian on the “faith and order” committee, the Rev. Katherine Grieb of Virginia, can serve as a consultant, but not a member, Kearon said.
Kearon said he has written the head of the Anglican Church of Canada, asking whether his church has formally adopted liturgical rites for same-sex blessings.
Kearon also said he has written to a South American archbishop who has welcomed conservative American bishops and dioceses into his province, about whether he has broken the third moratoria. The breakaway dioceses of San Joaquin, Calif., Pittsburgh, Quincy, Ill., and Fort Worth, Texas, have been accepted into the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, which is based in Argentina.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori assertively pushed back last week against efforts to sideline her church in the Anglican Communion, arguing that Anglicans have always been led by local churches, not a centralized body of powerful clerics.
By Daniel Burke
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