The Bishop of Albany, William Love, has had a partial restriction placed on his ministry over his refusal to permit same sex marriages in his diocese. The US-based Episcopal Church’s General Convention voted last year to approve a motion requiring all bishops to permit their clergy to conduct same-sex marriages in dioceses where they were legal under civil law. In November, Bishop William sent an eight-page letter to the Churches in his diocese, in the north of the US State of New York, saying that the resolution was “in direct conflict and contradiction to God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture.”
Today, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, announced that had placed a partial restriction on Bishop William’s ministry pending a preliminary investigation. The decision was taken, he said, “after broad consultation with leadership in The Episcopal Church and continued discussions with both the Rt Revd William Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany and the Episcopal Diocese of Albany Standing Committee”.
In a statement, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said that “While I am persuaded of the sincerity and good will of Bishop Love in these difficult circumstances, I am convinced that Resolution B012 was intended by the Convention to be mandatory and binding upon all our dioceses, particularly in the light of its provision that a diocesan bishop ‘hold[ing] a theological position that does not embrace marriage for [such] couples’ and confronted with a same-sex couple wishing to marry in that bishop’s diocese, ‘shall invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the Member of the Clergy involved and the congregation or worshipping community in order to fulfil the intention of this resolution that all couples have convenient and reasonable local congregational access to these rites.’
“I am therefore persuaded that as Presiding Bishop I am called upon to take steps to ensure that same-sex marriage in The Episcopal Church is available to all persons to the same extent and under the same conditions in all Dioceses of the Church where same-sex marriage is civilly legal.”
He said that Bishop William’s conduct “may constitute a canonical offence” in not abiding by the promises and vows made when ordained; and in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. Bishop Todd Ousley, responsibility for receiving complaints about bishops in The Episcopal Church, has been asked to carry out a preliminary assessment to determine whether a disciplinary process should be invoked.
While that takes place, Bishop Michael Curry has placed two restrictions on Bishop William’s ministry: he is “forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church’s disciplinary process in the Diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage” and he cannot “participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalising in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his Diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his Diocese or elsewhere.”
At the time of going to press, Bishop William has not responded to the restriction. Under the Canons of The Episcopal Church, he has the right to raise objections to the restriction.