Episcopal Statement on Sexuality Modified by Conservative Bishops
A group of conservative bishops has succeeded in modifying an Episcopal Church document on sexuality in church teachings.
“Basically, it affirmed traditional marriage,” church spokeswoman Sarah Bartenstein said of the altered document.
The House of Bishops voted narrowly to approve changes in the pastoral document Wednesday and attached an affirmation bolstering the church’s traditional emphasis on lifelong, heterosexual marriage.
In the pastoral letter as it had been proposed to the House of Bishops, spiritual leaders of the 2.5-million-member denomination recommended that future ordinations follow church teachings, suggesting a moratorium on the ordination of gays.
The sexuality statement also urged church members to welcome gay men and lesbians. It declared that the love, caring, commitment and spirituality found in heterosexual relationships can be found in gay relationships as well.
The changes make the letter “more realistic in terms of where the whole church is,” said Bishop John MacNaughton of West Texas, one of 101 bishops who signed the conservative affirmation.
Nearly every major religious group is grappling with the contentious issue of sexuality. The United Church of Christ is the only major Protestant denomination to allow the ordination of homosexuals.
The Episcopal Church’s legislative body has declared that homosexuals are children of God with full and equal claims upon the church, and that physical sexual expression is appropriate only within the lifelong, monogamous union of husband and wife.
The church says it is not appropriate to ordain non-celibate homosexuals, but in recent years several bishops have ordained them.
The document considered was called “Continuing the Dialogue: A Pastoral Teaching of the House of Bishops to the Church as It Considers Issues of Human Sexuality.”