A FRESH split in the Anglican Communion could follow the vote this week of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention to approve a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships.
Although the new rite is not for gay marriages, it has nevertheless split opinion and critics will say that the American Church has moved even further away from the rest of the Anglican Communion.
One of the first to respond was the Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence, who said the vote would ‘wound’ the Anglican Communion.
In a statement issued on behalf of his Diocese, he said: “We grieve that General Convention has further departed from [the traditional teaching on marriage] and adopted a resolution to permit pastoral license to violate the existing canons on marriage.
“We believe this decision will seriously wound the Church and ask you to join us in prayer for God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
In a vote by orders, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting on December 2 (the first Sunday of Advent). Clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution.
The motion in the House of Deputies was carried by 78 per cent in the clergy order, with the clergy in 85 deputations voting yes, 22 no and four divided; and 76 per cent in the lay order, with laity in 86 deputations voting yes, 19 no and five divided. The bishops had approved the resolution on July 9 with a roll call vote of 111 to 41 with three abstentions.