A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.So, in case you still need to be reminded, even after reading the above article, of just who is and is not honoring their ordination vows, the Anglican Curmudgeon offers this concise summary.
The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of [sic] South Carolina.
No priest is required to offer the blessing, vonRosenburg said in a letter to clergy.
"I do want to be clear that the permission does not define an expectation for clergy," the letter states. "In your own life of prayer and within community, you will decide how to respond to this statement of permission."
Priests who wish to perform a blessing will not be required to receive further permission to do so from the Bishop, but priests who wish to perform the ceremony in a church building must first seek permission from the church's vestry or mission committee, Behre said.
The Episcopal Church authorized same-sex blessings for "provisional use" in 2012 in a resolution at the 77th General Convention, according to a release from the church. Since then, more than 60 of the 110 dioceses of The Episcopal Church have allowed some form of liturgy for blessings of same-sex relationships, the release states.
Over at his blog Preludium, the Rev. Canon Mark Harris asks the question at the start of the trial in South Carolina today: "What part of the ordination vows did Mark Lawrence not understand?"Indeed, we can now ask: Just what part of his ordination vows did Charles vonRosenburg not understand?
The question is a facile one -- easily stated, but not simple to answer. Ostensibly the question refers to the oath of conformity taken when one becomes a bishop. As I explained in this post long ago, the oath of conformity to the Church replaced the oath of conformity to the Crown when PECUSA broke off from the Church of England, and could no longer recognize Britain's monarch as its head.
But the oath of conformity was not the chief oath made in the ordination process, as I also explained in that post. Ever since 1550, every Anglican/Episcopal ordinand on both sides of the Atlantic has vowed "to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of CHRIST, as the LORD hath commanded, and as this Church ... hath received the same, according to the commandments of GOD", or words to the same effect. (The current version has it this way: "Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them?")
Now, then, let us return to Canon Harris' question. As he himself appears to recognize, Mark Lawrence eventually was forced, by the course of events leading toward same-sex marriage in ECUSA, to choose between "the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church" and "the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received it" (my bold emphasis).
And from whom did this Church receive the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ? Why, from the Church of England. And from whom did the Church of England receive it? From the Roman Catholic Church. And from whom did the Roman Catholics receive it? From the original Church going back to the Apostles.
Note that the celebration or blessing of same-sex unions forms no part of the "doctrine, discipline or worship of Christ" as so received by ECUSA. Instead, it is a manufactured doctrine, one fashioned for the sake of the times. Indeed, its present implementation within ECUSA involves a serious violation of the very Canons which Mark Lawrence and all the bishops in ECUSA swore to uphold and obey upon their ordination, as I pointed out in my last post.
So I put his question right back to the Rev. Canon Harris: Just what part of their ordination vows did James R. Mathes, J. Jon Bruno, Mark Andrus, and Marvil Thomas Shaw III, SSJE, not understand?
As the old saw has it, "You pays your money and you takes your choice." The bishops I just named chose same-sex unions over the Canons and the Rubrics of the BCP. Bishop Lawrence chose the doctrine and discipline of Christ over the false doctrine (and associated phony discipline -- phony, because it is abused in order to advance false doctrine, as many posts here have detailed) of the Episcopal Church (USA).