In my address to the 113th Convention of the Diocese of Northern Indiana last October, I recognized both the diversity of conviction and the necessity that I now face of articulating a policy in the diocese regarding the provisional liturgy. I said:
General Convention in 2009 passed a resolution (C056) that asked the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to assemble and develop theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex unions. As I mentioned in earlier addresses, I voted against this resolution, though with some sadness. I am very grateful for the gay and lesbian Christians who are members of our diocesan family. Their presence is a gift to their parishes and a gift to me. And I realize that they may understand my “No” vote to be a negative word about them. That, however, is far from my intention. Rather, I believe that such a development violates an important Anglican principle: Lex orandi, lex credendi ”“ “the law of praying is the law of believing” ”“ or, more colloquially, you can tell what people believe by listening to the content of their prayers. Anglicans enshrine their doctrine in prayer. We simply do not have the consensus of the Anglican Communion, or of our ecumenical partners, in making such a change in doctrine. A liturgy for blessing same-sex unions will put the Episcopal Church out of the Anglican mainstream and indeed out of the Christian mainstream more generally
In light of the actions of General Convention, and of the convictions and pastoral concerns articulated last fall at our diocesan convention, I make the following response.
First, the provisional liturgy entitled “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” is not authorized for use in the Diocese of Northern Indiana. There will be no exceptions to this policy.
Second, priests of the Diocese of Northern Indiana who, for pastoral reasons, wish to use “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” may travel to a neighboring diocese to do so. I have spoken with the bishops of Chicago, Western Michigan, Michigan, Ohio, and Indianapolis (dioceses that border our own), and they have agreed that Northern Indiana priests may request permission to use a church in their dioceses for such a liturgy. Those priests should also apply for a “license to officiate” from the bishop of the neighboring diocese, since the liturgy would be under that bishop’s sacramental covering rather than mine.
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