Presiding Bishop restricts the ministry of Bishop William Love

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

January 11, 2019

After broad consultation with leadership in The Episcopal Church and continued discussions with both the Rt. Rev. William Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany and the Episcopal Diocese of Albany Standing Committee, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued the following Restriction on Ministry to Bishop Love:

Office of the Presiding Bishop

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

UPDATE: Episcopal News Service, the Albany Times-Union, and the Glens Falls Post-Star are all reporting on the restriction.

The Post-Star article notes that:

Love can appeal and the process does not guarantee that he will be disciplined, but Curry’s action immediately takes away Love’s ability to discipline clergy who take part in same-sex ceremonies, said Christopher Hayes, a deputy to the general convention that adopted the resolution and chancellor of the Diocese of California.

“The presiding bishop’s action should take that fear away,” Hayes said.

The ENS article also includes the relevant sections of the disciplinary canons:

The presiding bishop said Love’s disciplinary process will center on two sections of Title IV: 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”). Those part of canons can be found on pages 206 and 207 here. The canons define conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy as “any disorder or neglect that prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the church or the holy orders conferred by the church.” Love has the right to objection to the restrictions placed on him, according to to Canon IV.7 (4)(g) (page 216 at the above link).

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JoS. S Laughon
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The One Holy Catholic Church, as seen in the Infallible General Office of The Episcopal Church, has spoken and all unbelievers and schismatics who have not received the new revelation will be punished.

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C SEITZ
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C SEITZ

Into the jaws of Title IV. Only surprise is that it took so long. Just mopping up exercises now. +FL and +TN will next be in line. Curry does a nice job summarising the party line. BO12 was only ever a holding action. That is now clear.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

It's a really good step for now. It's basically a "do no harm" measure while the process plays out. I presume that this means that marriages can now commence in Albany?

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B. D. Howed
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B. D. Howed

@Cynthia Katsarelis, “Basically a ‘do no harm’ measure.”

Have we, that is the Church, become so insensitive (or numb) that we can only feel our own pain? I hope not but I’m afraid so.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

No B. D. Howed, it isn't a matter of only feeling our own pain. It's a matter of discernment about the nature of pain and how we are called to respond. The pain of LGBTQ+ people being told that we're sinful and disordered for who God has made us, and can't marry the person who is our best evidence of God's Grace in our lives, is horrific. Teen suicide, bullying, hate crimes, alienation, discrimination and resulting hardship, these are the fruits of exclusion.

The fruits of losing an argument and having to tolerate others don't seem to be so dire. Further, no one is entitled to be a bishop. There are a lot of ways to follow Christ, and that one is simply not a requirement. Frankly, much of this is about losing the entitlement of lording it over others.

If you're asking me to grieve for people who no longer have the power to oppress me, you are asking the wrong thing. I can pray for them, I can live in hope that they find peace and Grace in some way that no longer damages others.

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C SEITZ
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C SEITZ

Nothing ever stopped them. If a parish and priest went ahead with ss marriage, what could +Love have done? Nothing. That is nowhere in dispute. Did you imagine him somehow wielding an instrument to stop such? He never contemplated that.

At issue for him was allowing something to happen under his watch that violated his sense of his own solemn vows as a Bishop. He can rest easy on that score. TEC has removed his concern by eliminating his role altogether, and indeed begun Title IV against him.

Given his convictions about his role as Bishop, the only recourse will be resigning, one supposes. TEC Bishops now have a new set of vows to take before a new understanding of "doctrine, discipline, worship," not in effect when he made his own. Go in peace +William Love.

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Jon White
Admin

I don’t know how you can so offhandedly reject that Love would not have used a disciplinary process to sanction any cleric who officiated at a same-sex marriage in contravention of diocesan canon. That is at least the implication of Love’s pastoral directive and how it was understood by those so directed. You don’t get to have it both ways on the force of diocesan canon.

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Member

You know, Brother Christopher, on this I would disagree. He could begin a disciplinary process; and while in might not be upheld ultimately, in the process it would cause a great deal of effort for the accused. It would also come up in any future job search. It would have been within Bishop Love’s authority; nor would he intend it as a “nuisance suit,” as he is certainly sincere. I have served on Convention committees with him, and while I disagree with him, I know he is a person of principle.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

Most people understand that General Convention has the final say and that Bishops aren't local popes. If Bishop Love can't manage to obey, then he is obligated to resign as bishop. As a priest, he would be free to follow his conscience.

It's reasonable, he's not free to oppress others, but as a priest, he is free to practice his personal conscience. That's as good as it can be. And there is the opportunity to be in the church with integrity, as long as you aren't committed to lording it over others.

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Barbara Crafton
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Barbara Crafton

So sorry to read this, but can see no other course open to Bp. Curry. Prayers for all concerned.

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