Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Statement on Recent Election in Los Angeles

The recent election in the Diocese of Los Angeles of a partnered lesbian as bishop suffragan raises the questions of covenant and communion within The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Communion once again. Leadership in the Diocese of Texas has consistently adhered to the request for gracious restraint and a moratorium put forth in the Windsor Report and supports the ongoing process of a Covenant within the global Communion and will continue to do so.

The Diocese of Los Angeles and the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, elected on December 5, must now follow a consent process. The implications of this vote are far reaching and it remains to be seen if more than half of TEC’s 109 diocesan standing committees and more than half of the diocesan bishops will approve her election. It may take up to four months for the consent process to unfold.

The Windsor Report, written following the election and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, NH in 2003, requested a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and in 2006, The Episcopal Church agreed to refrain from electing additional actively gay bishops. This summer, the Church’s General Convention acknowledged there is great diversity of opinion within the Church on the issue of sexuality, marriage and ordination.

The Diocese of Texas is a diverse diocese and opinions among our clergy and our laity vary on the issue of sexuality. We have many gay and lesbian members across the diocese and week after week they join with the rest of our Church as faithful communicants to worship and work on behalf of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the blessing of diverse opinions on scripture and sexuality, while as a whole the Diocese of Texas has continued and continues to offer a clear response to the wider Communion through a traditional teaching on marriage and ordination.

Even so, the Diocese of Texas has always supported both the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process which seeks to realize a Communion where everyone across the globe has a voice in the common life of the Church. We cannot isolate ourselves by listening only to the voices of any one province, or even the voices of any one diocese within our province. In the Diocese of Texas we are interested in our relationships locally and abroad, believing we are stronger when we listen to and partner with diverse cultures around the world.

As bishop of the Diocese of Texas I will continue to honor the request of my brother and sister bishops across our province and the Communion, and the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and will not consent to the Rev. Glasspool’s election.

While I will not vote to consent to this election, I am unified with others throughout the Anglican Communion around the issues of safeguarding human rights everywhere. We reject the pending Ugandan legislation that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate portions of that country's anti-homosexuality laws. I believe that “efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (General Convention 2006, Resolution D005). This has been the position of Anglican bodies, including several Lambeth Conferences. The Primates’ Meeting noted that, as Anglicans, “we assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” (Primates’ Communiqué, Dromantine, 2005). Recently, our Presiding Bishop has spoken out and our Archbishop has been meeting intensively with the leaders of Uganda to ensure the dignity of every human being is honored as a creature of God.

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