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Marriage rites and pastoral care in the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Marriage rites and pastoral care in the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh has given permission for clergy in his diocese to use Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015. He also gives direction as to how a priest must care pastorally for a same-sex couple should the priest be unwilling to preside at their blessing.

Here is what this means for us in Pittsburgh. Any couple who wishes to make use of these rites should begin the way couples have always begun: by approaching their rector or priest-in-charge. If the rector or priest-in-charge is willing to use them, no consultation with me is necessary. Should any rector or priest-in-charge be unwilling, for any reason, to use these rites, he or she will contact the rector or priest-in-charge of another parish who would be willing to do so and, together with the couple, work out a way forward that protects the consciences of all concerned and does not impose an undue burden on any. In such a case, I ask the clergy involved to contact me from the beginning to keep me informed. We have already followed this process for the use of the provisional rite, and I am aware of no instance in which everyone involved has not quickly arrived at a happy arrangement. However, should the parties be unable to come to a resolution on their own, I will help them find an expedient alternative.

These rites will provide all couples clear security in the eyes of the law, and equal dignity in the eyes of their church. However, to my mind, their supporting materials do not make a coherent or compelling theological case for same-sex marriage, nor do the rites themselves adequately explain what they are doing and why. Especially in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, their approval was seen by the overwhelming majority of those present at Convention as a matter of”marriage equality,” of simple justice, making irrelevant any serious discussion of sacramental theology. Nonetheless, this is a conversation that very much needs to happen, on the ground, in the pastoral context of people’s lives and hopes; perhaps as our pastors and people consider the use of these rites, we can find ways to have such a discussion together.

As always, I call us to hold our unity in Christ as a precious gift. The House of Bishops, especially over the last days of Convention, demonstrated remarkable graciousness in embracing one another in love while maintaining both the depth of our personal convictions and the clarity of our differences. I hope and trust we will do the same in our own diocese. To that end, please be assured of my continuing prayers, as I ask you to pray for me.


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Professor Christopher Seitz

Voice vote for a vote that required a roll call vote, which needed a majority of 140 of all bishops entitled to vote.

Your question is valid. That is why when the constitution tells us what is needed for something as important as a Trial Rite, it doesn’t allow a voice vote but instead needs a roll call so you can have an answer to your question.

Ann Fontaine

Entitled to vote and present. That has been decided by the HoB a few years ago.

stephen graumlich

Is there anyplace we can go to see how our bishop voted on A054???? Published anyplace???

John Chilton

A054 was by voice vote.

Professor Christopher Seitz

Good typo catch.

Professor Christopher Seitz

So that’s one strong No vote for “Little/Martin Plan”.

One indication “Doyle Plan” will remain in effect.

Does each conservative Bishop need to have a ‘Doyle Plan’ in place? Is that the acceptable ‘make provision’ route?

Ann Fontaine

Christopher: if you are referring to the Bishop of Springfield – his name is Martins not Martin.

JC Fisher

“However, to my mind, their supporting materials do not make a coherent or compelling theological case for same-sex marriage”

The most “coherent or compelling theological case for same-sex marriage” always has been and always WILL be same-sex couples themselves: created in the Image and Likeness of God, redeemed by Christ, and together called by the Holy Spirit to the marital covenant. I’m honestly surprised that the bishop is looking for in words, what could only be a pale approximation of God’s LGBT children’s lives.

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