Pittsburgh clergy can exercise a "local option" on same-sex blessings

Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh announced today that pastors in his diocese can decide for themselves whether to bless same-sex relationships. He wrote:

[U]nity in diversity has been in the forefront of expressed values since the earliest days of the rebuilding that took place in this diocese after 2008. Our "Mission, Vision & Values" covenant from that time speaks of our commitment to each other, despite differences and disagreement, being united in greater measure by our faith expressed in the Creeds; by the authority of Scripture, tradition and reason in our common life; and by a commitment both to the order of the Episcopal Church and the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. While that covenant does not explicitly name the issues concerning human sexuality, it has been understood that these matters are part of the diversity in the diocese, expressed in the character of local communities of faith, some congregations in the aggregate being more conservative on issues of sexuality, others more progressive, and a few quite mixed.

Since this local character exists in variety of conviction, I find it reasonable that this variety should be allowed to express itself in local practice, by allowing the decision of whether or not to use this rite to be made by each pastor, in his or her own parish. This "local option" will allow each rector or priest-in-charge to minister pastorally according to his or her commitments and conscience, while putting none under constraint or duress.

Having said this, I must also be clear, both as your bishop and from my own place in this spectrum of belief, that I have serious reservations concerning the theology and intention of the rite, for reasons I have specified in an assessment that appears below. I know that at least a few of the clergy inclined to use this rite share some of my concerns about it; I also know they see it as a way of offering public recognition and pastoral support to same-sex couples in whom qualities of mutual devotion and fidelity, care and nurture, and faithful participation in the life of the Church are clearly visible. It is out of respect for their local pastoral authority, as well as out of my own pastoral regard for the free conscience of all who are under their care, that I will allow the use of this rite according to the guidelines that also appear below.

The bishop added:

As for the somewhat related matter of ordained ministry, I believe the principal determining factor in regard to my role as ordinary rests in my discernment, in concert with the Church, as to whether God is calling any given individual to Holy Orders. Therefore, I will not alter the non-discrimination policy begun under Bishop Price; an individual's being in a committed same-sex partnership will not, in and of itself, be a barrier either to ordination or call in this diocese.

Comments (1)

Both Integrity Pittsburgh and Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh have issued statements reacting to Bishop McConnell’s Pastoral Letter. Both groups seem happy, though PEP seems happier than Integrity.

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