Episcopal church leader calls Anglican censure ‘fair’

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Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, speaking to reporters at a news conference at the National Press Club, said the Anglican Communion’s recent censure of his denomination was a “very specific, almost surgical approach” to their disagreements over LGBT issues. Religion News Service by Jerome Socolovsky

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, speaking to reporters at a news conference at the National Press Club, said the Anglican Communion’s recent censure of his denomination was a “very specific, almost surgical approach” to their disagreements over LGBT issues. Religion News Service by Jerome Socolovsky

WASHINGTON (RNS) Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is describing the recent censure of his church over allowing clergy to perform same-sex marriages as a “fair” move by the wider Anglican Communion.

Anglican primates voted last month in Canterbury, England, to remove the Episcopal Church from votes on doctrine and to ban it from representing the communion in ambassadorial relationships for three years.

In an appearance at the National Press Club on Monday (Feb. 8), Curry said the decision was a “very specific, almost surgical approach” that allowed both sides to express their differences and yet find a way to remain together.

“There was clarity on our part, both about who we are as a church and about our love and commitment to the communion and there was clarity on their part that they disagreed with us,” he said. “But they didn’t vote us off the island.”

RELATED STORY: Anglican leaders downplay censure of Episcopal Church

The presiding bishop said he could understand why the majority of Anglican leaders voted for the censure.

“Because we differ on the core doctrine, it would not be seen as appropriate for us to represent the Anglican Communion in ecumenical, interfaith leadership,” he said. “That’s fair.”

He called the action a voicing of displeasure on the part of many Anglicans but one “that didn’t go too far.”

Curry was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in July, at the same meeting in which his church voted to permit clergy to perform same-sex marriages — a move that differs with the majority of Anglican Communion provinces.

The Episcopal Church, with about 1.8 million U.S. members, is one of 38 provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which claims upwards of 85 million members globally.

“We believe in it (same-sex marriage) because the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross really are about embracing and welcoming us all,” he said, adding that the Episcopal position would not be reviewed to avoid a renewal of the three-year censure. “We’re not changing.”

RELATED STORY: Bishop Michael Curry’s vision: A world transformed by the love of God

Curry was also asked about St. George’s School, an elite Episcopal prep school in Rhode Island that is under investigation for the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of former students.

“It’s being adjudicated actually on the local levels following the national canon and with our support,” he said.

He said the denomination has worked since the 1990s so that any allegations of sexual abuse are investigated, “not just kind of taken care of and swept under the rug.”

(Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS)

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  • Scott Shaver

    Appears to be a calm and level-headed reaction on both sides of the issue (i.e. Anglican Communion vs Episcopal). That’s positive.

    This balloon hasn’t quite landed yet would appear.

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  • Richard

    Fair, in this case, has nothing to do with Scripture and complying with it.

  • Jay

    The Episcopal Church should leave the Anglican Communion. It should also immediately cease contributing any money to any Church whose primate voted to censure the Episcopal Church.

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  • Sure, let’s create more schism and celebrate it. Bravo to both sides in this hard context.

  • Sabelotodo2

    Yeah, and Cam Newton is likely down-playing to the press, the horrendous butt-kicking he suffered Sunday at the hands of the Denver Broncos defense!

    It’s a delicious irony that “the Church of Anything Goes” is being doctrinally censured by the products of Anglican mission work around the world a couple generations ago, who are coming into their own. Those converts number in the millions, while the EC has slipped from 2.3 million to 1.8 in recent history.

  • Jay

    There is nothing hard about the context. The Anglican Communion has chosen to embrace hatred and prejudice. The Episcopal Church has chosen to follow the great commandment of love. It is not difficult to decide which of the two sides is more faithfully Christian. The Episcopal Church has no business being aligned with the thugs who now dominate the Anglican Communion.

  • uscmule

    I don’t see the homosexual community keeping TEC afloat when the current generation of 60+ year old ladies who make up the majority of TEC pass on.

    I see TEC doing well in the funeral business for another decade or two, but then the money will no longer be something TEC can even attempt to hold over the global south. So really this is all moot since the problem will just go away… Just like the gays, TEC isn’t reproducing.

  • Sharon Kaczmarczyk

    Jesus taught us to love one another as He loves us. Open your bibles for the details.

  • Sharon Kaczmarczyk

    You can’t be more scriptural than that. Enough said.

  • I appreciate the PB’s attempts to be magnanimous in this matter. It probably is fair to say that both sides of this conflict were candid and that the punitive response of the majority did not go too far. Whether the attempted control of the current minority through suspension by the majority is fair is another story. That speaks more to pettiness and insecurity more than fairness.

    A question that is raised by the PB’s comments is whether the same sex marriage issue is actually “core doctrine.” To the degree it speaks to the Great Commandment to love others as oneself and treat them as we would be treated, it probably is a core doctrine. Those are profound values of the Way of Jesus. But to the degree that any given understanding of marriage is a core doctrine, I have to wonder. The Episcopal Church is the church of the refugee, per Robert Bellah, sociologist of religion. I did not come to TEC because of anything to do with its stand on marriage. I’d guess that’s true of…