Presiding Bishop’s response to Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive

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Partial Restriction on the Ministry of a Bishop The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany

In recent weeks, I have learned of and studied a Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive to his Diocese issued by Bishop Love of the Diocese of Albany on November 10, 2018, regarding the Church’s continued acceptance of the use of a trial rite for performing same-sex marriages in the Church pursuant to Resolution B012 of the General Convention in 2018.  Copies of Bishop Love’s statement and Resolution B012 are available here and here.  In that statement, Bishop Love articulates his belief that same-sex marriage is contrary to Scripture and the “official teaching” of this Church and as a consequence directs that same-sex marriages may not be performed by any canonically resident or licensed clergy of his Diocese, and requires full compliance with the Diocese of Albany’s Canon XVI, which forbids the same clergy from “officiat[ing] at,” “facilitat[ing],” or “participat[ing] in” such marriages; forbids the recognition of such marriages in that Diocese; and forbids the use of church property as the site of such marriages. 

After discussions with Bishop Love, I released a statement in partial response on November 12, 2018, a copy of which is here.  Representatives of my Office have since met with members of the Standing Committee and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Albany. 

These documents and discussions form the basis of the temporary action that I now take regarding Bishop Love’s ministry as Bishop of Albany.  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 fulfill 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. 

I am aware that Bishop Love’s conduct in this regard may constitute a canonical offense under Canon IV.4(1)(c) (“abide by the promises and vows made when ordained”) and Canon IV.4(1)(h)(9) (“any Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy”), and that conduct has been referred to the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop for Pastoral Development and Intake Officer for disciplinary matters involving bishops.  Accordingly, in order to protect the integrity of the Church’s polity and disciplinary process and, thereby, the good order and welfare of the Church, and pursuant to Canons IV.7(3), (4), and IV.17(2), I hereby place the following partial restriction on the exercise of Bishop Love’s ministry: 

          During the period of this restriction, Bishop Love, acting individually, or as Bishop Diocesan, or in any other capacity, 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. 

          Nor shall he participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalizing 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
.

This restriction is effective immediately and shall continue until any Title IV matter pending against Bishop Love is resolved.  In the meantime, I or my successor, should this matter continue after my term, shall review the continued necessity of this restriction from time to time and amend or lift it as appropriate. 

This document shall be served upon Bishop Love today and hereby informs him of his right to have any objections to this restriction heard pursuant to Canon IV.7. 

Dated:  January 11, 2019                   

(The Most Rev.) Michael Bruce Curry                                   XXVII Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church