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.
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.
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