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Bishops in partibus

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | May 27, 2003

WILLIAMS DENOUNCES GAY MARRIAGES shouts a headline in today's Telegraph (UK). The lead sentence is likewise dramatic: "The Archbishop of Canterbury and his fellow Anglican leaders denounced gay marriages yesterday in an effort to avert schism in the worldwide Church."

Currently the text of the Anglican bishops' pastoral letter is unavailable online, but the body of the Telegraph article suggests the move was something less than a doctrinally motivated condemnation:

In a pastoral letter released after a critical summit meeting in Brazil last week, the primates said that "the question of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy". They added: "There is no theological consensus. . .therefore we, as a body, cannot support the authorisation of such rites." Their statement was aimed at preventing the liberal Bishop of New Westminster in Canada, the Rt Rev Michael Ingham, and several bishops in North America going ahead with same-sex blessings in defiance of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Far from denouncing same-sex marriages, the bishops appear to have grudgingly maintained the status quo in default of a substantial majority voting bloc (I mean, of course, a theological consensus). Readers of Ronald Knox will remember his sardonic comment on the decision of an Anglican episcopal committee that pronounced on a controversial interfaith service in Kenya:

"The service at Kikuyu was eminently pleasing to God and must on no account be repeated."

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